Recently, I wrote an article titled “Never take failure to heart”. The central idea of the article was to help people understand that failure is not an external result but an internal reality. In other words, we become failures when we internalize our falls, flops, faults, fouls and flaws. What was shocking to me was that a lot of my readers viewed that article more than the other articles put together. This observation made me to come to this conclusion “people are afraid of failing”. So what I want to do is teach you what failure is, how to learn from failures so you can fail forward towards success. If you’re ready, take you notepad and pen let’s begin.
Failing doesn’t actually mean you’re a failure. It is merely a part of your developmental process. I wish you can get to understand the difference between failing and being a failure. That is, failure as an event (result) and failure as a person (reality). Both aren’t the same you know.
A paradigm shift like this can make a whole lot of difference in your life.
Success is most often achieved by those who know that failure is impossible to avoid. Successful people learn to fail with all joy. They consistently charge towards their goals and dreams and take actions rather than label themselves failures when they fail.
You can’t eliminate failure from the equation of success. As a matter of fact, success loses its meaning without failure as a variable.
This truth alone can revolutionize your whole life. Why do I call it truth? because truth transform us. On the other hand, lies limit us. You can’t afford to label yourself a failure when you fall short otherwise you would be short circuiting your life.
This may be hard for you to believe, but successful people experience failure almost as often as unsuccessful people. In fact, on the average, successful people fail two out of every five times they attempt something and unsuccessful people fail three out of five times.
That’s not a lot of difference, is it? Actually, there are several similarities between the person who fails three out of five times and the person who fails two out of five times, even though one would be classified as successful and the other one would be classified as unsuccessful.
The first similarity is that all fail. There’s not one person who does not experience failure.
The second similarity is that we all fail often. We don’t just fail once and walk gingerly through life so that we’ll never fail again. Failure is something that we experience every day.
And third, we will continue to fail until we die. Death itself is the only thing that’s going to keep us from failing. However, this also means we will continue to win and succeed. If we are not afraid to fail.
Sometimes I have the feeling that people are trying to tiptoe safely to the grave without goofing up somewhere along the way. Why is it that failure destroys some and build up others? How can you allow failure to make you a better person? Too many people concentrate on failure instead of on success. Very few concentrate on success. How do you fail forward towards success?
- Treat failure as a friend not as a foe
Too many people treat their flops as foes.
It is difficult; in fact, impossible to rise when you have negative perspective or outlook about failure. This kind of thinking, in itself, is a mistake; failure should be treated as a friend. Your reaction to failure determines what you do with it. If you treat your failure as a foe, for example, you’ll hide it.
Whenever you fail in a certain area, you’ll want to get out of that area, whatever it is—a job, a marriage, a relationship, business or even a hobby. If you treat your failure as a foe, you will take your mistakes too seriously. You’ll be ridden with anxiety.
Every mistake will be a life-or-death situation. On the other hand, if you can see failure as a friend, a helper, then you’ll react positively to it. Only when you’re honest and open about a mistake can you learn from it.
People usually don’t learn from their past failures because it embarrasses them. We usually do not want anything to do with our foes either, so we don’t embrace them.
We either learn from our failures or leave them. Unfortunately, unsuccessful people – especially those who are insecure have hard times learning from their failures.
- Know that failure is not final, neither is it fatal.
Do you conclude on yourself as a failure when you collapse or experience any catastrophe? You see, that’s what many people do – they conclude on themselves and hands up to life’s difficulties and challenges. Failure doesn’t kill.
Thomas Edison demonstrated this so well.
When Thomas Edison’s factory got burnt to the ground in 1914, destroying one-of-a-kind prototypes and causing $23 million in damage, Edison’s response was simple: Thank goodness all our mistakes were burned up. Now we can start fresh again.
Edison’s reaction is the epitome of mental resilience- seeing failure as opportunities and taking action when things look bleak.
Did you notice? He never said let’s look for the next big thing to start, instead, he said; now we can start again. In other words, Edison never concluded on his mistakes and failures.
You can always start again when you experience setbacks and failure only when you understand that failure isn’t final. In fact, it’s an opportunity to begin again more intelligently.
Use failures as feedbacks!
Nelson is a content developer at Firm Foundation International. He is also a personal development coach, leadership consultant, and estate manager. He’s the lead strategist at Whetat Consulting.