When we look at other people’s success we rarely see the ups and downs of their path there. People rarely share their failures on social media but gladly share their wins. We see these perfectly curated feeds of all the good stuff and automatically fill in the blanks with more good stuff.
The reality is that those gaps are often not as glamorous as we make them to be. The most successful people you know have failed. Usually several times and they have failed big time too. But they didn’t let failure define them and they chose not to give up.
When it comes to learning from failure it all comes down to perseverance, drive and reframing failures as lessons that propel you in the right direction. Those who succeed are not so good that they never fail or never make mistakes. They are just incredibly good at never giving up.
How can failure lead to success
As a society we see failure as something bad that should be avoided at all costs. It’s painful, it’s undesirable and it’s the opposite of success. Research suggest that we experience loss with twice as much pain as we experience joy for success. But in reality, failure is a crucial ingredient to success.
Failure leads to success because:
- Failure after failure makes you resilient.
- Failures are excellent learning opportunities that can lead to growth.
- Failure helps you realise what really matters.
- Failure helps you understand your mistakes and do better.
Jeff Bezo, the founder of Amazon failed many many times and made some very expensive mistakes. Heck, he gave himself a 30% chance that Amazon might succeed. Steve Jobs has been fired from his own company. Michael Jordan didn’t make the cut for his high school basketball team in sophomore year. These are just some of the famous failure stories that turned into massive success because they choose not to give up and not to be defined by mistakes and failure.
How to overcome fear of failure
The fear of failure can stop us from reaching goals and living our best life. It’s important to understand that there’s a chance of failing no matter what we choose to do. And this is exactly why so often we get stuck in inactivity. Nothing happens if nothing happens and if we don’t try we can’t fail. But we also can’t succeed.
To overcome the fear of failure you need to:
Work on your mindset
Our inner monologue matters and so do our beliefs. More often than not failure starts in our mind with negative self talk. These journaling prompts will help you work through your limiting beliefs and help you on your self discovery journey.
Get into a proactive habit
It might come to you as a surprise but taking action is a habit. And, as any habit, you can work on it and make it stronger. Start by acting on the small stuff, take small risks, get used to the tiny failures. Then, as you get more comfortable with it, start building it up. Soon you’ll be ready to take on the world.
Have a contingency plan
Often times we are afraid of failure because we don’t know what comes next. Having a strong action plan is only part of the solution. What might be even more important is a contingency plan. While the hope is we’ll never have to use it, a good contingency plan can help us get the confidence we need to take action anyway because we not only know what the possible outcomes are, we also know what steps we can take if the worse case scenario were to come true.
How to learn from failure
You always pass failure on the way to success. But, if you want success to be your final destination, you can’t just wave it goodbye. Failure can lead to success when we learn from it.
In order to turn failure into success you need to:
Take time to grieve
Failure is a success if we learn from it, but learning can be hard when we’re hurt and vulnerable. Take some time to organise your thoughts and work through your emotions.
Take 100% responsibility
It’s easy to blame our failures on others or the circumstances. I couldn’t complete the marathon because it rained. I couldn’t finish college because my family doesn’t come from money. But in reality we always have a choice, there’s steps we can take, things we can do. We just choose not to because they’re uncomfortable, hard or scary.
Perform an after action review
Look back at what went wrong and what could have made it better. What was the biggest mistake and how can you avoid it next time? Also what went right? What were the little wins and steps in the right direction that you could build on next time?
Try again and fail better
It’s as simple as that. Pick yourself up and give it another shot but this time around don’t repeat the same mistakes. You might not succeed just yet, but you do need to fail better. Only this way, by trying again and trying better, you’ll eventually succeed.
The spider and the king
There’s this story about a King whose kingdom was attacked. His defence failed and he found shelter in a cave with a spider as his companion. The King watched the spider climb up the slippery walls and fall off over and over again, never giving up. At last the spider succeeded. Inspired by the spider’s uphill battle the King decided to take back control and try again. Eventually he defeated his enemies.
Morale of the story? Never give up!
You don’t always have to fail in order to succeed and sometimes you’ll get it right from the start. But this isn’t the norm and you need to get used to picking yourself up and trying harder.