Failure. A dreaded word everybody fears. We live in a competitive society where educators, life coaches, motivation experts, and other mentors mainly teach us how to approach success, how to be winners. Only a few teach us a more valuable lesson – how to cope with failure. In fact, experiencing failure is one of the best qualifications for the school of life.
Even in history, we have great examples of successful failures, from Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Walt Disney, Colonel Sanders to more recent examples like Stephen King, Jack Ma, J. K. Rowling, etc.
Even though failure is associated with negative connotations, and is often linked to fear and anxiety, it has unlimited potential to help us grow physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Artists say that only through failure and mistakes can we discover novel and creative ideas on the road to success. Failure rewires the brain and gets the creative juices flowing.
Imagine how many things we cannot live today without, would not exist if it were not for failure. Take a light bulb, for example. Thomas Edison, one of the most persistent men in history famously said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”, and this quote illustrates the power of failure beautifully.
If the destination is already known, what new things would we discover? And if everyone feared failure, there would be no human genome project, launching a mission to Mars, or the iPhone. Technological advancement, medical advancement, and other advancements in today’s world wouldn’t be possible if failure were not accepted and embraced with enthusiasm and an iron will to try it again despite everything.
Failure is a friend that should be embraced. It helps us and guides us to what works and what doesn’t. It allows us to understand the different conditions in which something happens, or doesn’t.
It’s a friend who pushes us to learn and grow. It’s a friend who guides us to success. Japanese industrialist and carmaker, Soichiro Honda said it best: “Success is 99% failure.” 99%. Imagine. Not 5%, or 10% or even 50% – but 99%.
We have a lot to learn from a friend like that.
Failure can be an efficient and sometimes harsh teacher. It delivers lessons in our career, marriage, financial and personal lives, and in our friendships. Learning what not to do is just as important as learning what to do.
People have lots of fears, and the fear of failure is one of them. Actually, fear of failure is even worse than the failure itself because it stops us from taking action. What if I quit my job to pursue my dreams? What if I pour my life saving into a business that will fail one day? What if I marry the wrong man or woman? What if, what if? But once we tackle all what if’s through failures and they become enemies we know; that familiarity can help us move on with the confidence that a stumble or fall won’t be the end of our story.
A failure is a powerful tool providing many positive outcomes and endless opportunities for personal growth. When we fail, we develop a deeper understanding of our character and actions. Not only won’t we repeat the same mistakes, but we will also begin to ask deeper questions to consider every possible scenario.
Going through failure is a remarkable test of our character, courage, and determination to succeed. I truly believe that until you experience some big failures in your life, you won’t be able to build a resilient character and strength to overcome all adversity. It’s like a benchmark to show you what you’re made of.
Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from difficulties and setbacks. J. K. Rowling submitted her first Harry Potter book to 12 publishing houses, and they all rejected her work, but she kept trying, and one year later she found a publisher. Every time we encounter failure, we grow in resilience. We build up our ability to handle future problems. Don’t quit. Learn resilience.
When we fail at something we want or need to do, we look for alternative ways and ideas to reach our goals, therefore our creativity spikes. We learn from it, we grow, we change our point of view. We look for different ways to approach the situation, and our creative juices keep flowing.
Nobody is perfect. We all fail at one point. What sets us apart is how we handle failure.
My biggest professional failure resulted in my biggest increase in knowledge. I started a company after graduating from university with my best friend, and a few months later we failed. We couldn’t secure funding for the project we were working on. After a hard talk, we decided to close the company and part ways. I found a job, and so did my best friend. But this failure didn’t stop us either. It only made us stronger and more determined to try again.
Failures are a natural, necessary part of being human. Some failures are bigger than others. Some are more humiliating, and some have a greater stigma around them. Don’t torture yourself if you fail. You have a lot to learn from it.
Own your failures, don’t let them own you. Pick yourself up, accept failure, learn from it and walk proudly.
How do you cope with failure? Let me know in the comments down below.
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