You put your hardest, most passionate work into this project. You believe it is one of your greatest ideas yet! Your talents and uniqueness combined have birthed what you believe is a tremendous end product and will grant you recognition along with a promotion or a new opportunity. The moment of truth has arrived. Your heart beats with anticipation as you get prepared to embark on a new journey. But then, something unexpected happens. You get passed over. You are told in so many ways your ideas or your project weren’t good enough. The opportunity goes to someone else who, perhaps, didn’t put in the same amount of perspiration as you. You didn’t get the promotion you waited so long for. You feel defeat hover over you like a dark storm cloud and wonder, “What have I done wrong?” You wonder what is next for you as you contemplate whether or not it’s worth putting in all that hard work again.
Failure is not a good feeling, and we’ve all experienced it at some point in our lives to some degree. The scenario above may apply to many situations in which failure happens: a final academic exam, a job interview, a social experiment, disappointing others, or a failed business. It can hurt so badly and keep us down for a long time. Failure can make us feel defeated, and if we’re not strong enough, it can eat away at our confidence and self-worth. But what’s most important in times like this is how we look at failure and how we respond to it.
Would you believe that failure is a vital part of the success formula? Look at it this way: Determination + hard work + failure x passion x (willingness to learn) 2 = SUCCESS. Something as negative as failure can be used as an advantage for our lives. It is something that can propel us forward towards greatness. Do you have that one friend who isn’t necessarily the nicest, but always tells you the hard truth and gives the soundest advice? In the same way, failure helps us evaluate ourselves in several ways.
We recognize our mistakes. We cannot be perfect beings who do everything correctly the first time; it is unnatural. Whatever goal or aspiration we are working towards, we always have an action plan. But what we likely forget to include in that plan is willingness to learn from our failures and mistakes. Mistakes are one of the greatest things that can happen to us in life. This sort of failure only points us toward our biggest mistakes and when we find what we did wrong—or what went wrong—our minds do a rewiring. Our failures help reroute us on our journey, and when we try new solutions, we lead ourselves towards eventual success. Put it this way: the greater the failure, the greater the wisdom we gain from it.
Try, try again. Life is all about perseverance. It’s all about learning, falling, teaching, and giving. When failure encounters us like a storm, we have two options: admit defeat and give up, or learn from that failure and try a different avenue that will take us further. The more we strive towards our goal, the stronger and wiser we become. We shouldn’t be afraid of failing again, because that mindset will keep us boxed in.
Fear of failure? This fear is quite common, especially in a social media era where most folks publically document every job promotion, A+ on a physics test, marriage, or new car they get. The idea here is we cannot fear something as inevitable as failure. One of the best ways to overcome a fear of failure is to see what it teaches you and how it makes you better. Look at failure in a positive way, “Okay, this idea didn’t work out, but this is a learning experience for me and an opportunity to become more effective in life.”
Know that failure is something we all can rise above and learn profoundly from!