But before you give me a hearty, “Amen!” let’s talk about what failure really is…and what it isn’t.
Failure is proving unsuccessful in a specific task or venture at a specific point in time. It’s not about being unsuccessful as a whole, and it’s not about your character or effort. It doesn’t make you a loser or mean you’re untalented. And it certainly doesn’t measure your future ability to achieve a specific goal.
Here’s the bottom line: failure happens. Deal with it.
But how? (Insert whiny voice.) I’ll tell you. Through my experience, I’ve discovered 5 ways failure can propel us in the right direction:
Failure Helps Us Develop Character
We learn to deal with disappointments without being a jerk. We learn that it’s not the end of the world, or even the end of a particular endeavor. We develop empathy for others, and we even learn what we’re made of down deep inside. What we do with that knowledge is up to us.
Failure Reveals Which Areas Need Work
If we’ve come up short on a goal, it might just be a bad combination of timing and outside influences. But it also might mean we have specific skills that need improvement. Maybe you need more training, better equipment or more research. Fix whatever you have control over. Take a class, go to a conference, read a book, watch some videos—invest in yourself! You might even benefit from a mentor or friend with more experience.
Failure Forces Us to Develop a Better Product or Offering
This takes shoring up the areas we need to work on one step further. With increased knowledge or better resources, we can try again. Use what worked before, replace what didn’t. Bring your best product or offering forward and get it into the right hands.
Failure Makes Us Examine Our Goals
Are you pursuing the right thing? Such a simple question, but the answer makes all the difference. If you know that you’re going after the right goal, then it’s time to make some adjustments. If in doubt, you may be freed up to pursue what really matters. Look for open doors and other opportunities—they might be right under your nose.
Direct Your Attention to Other Projects
Even if you know you’re pursuing the right goal, take a break and give your mind, energy and resources a break. Sometimes we get so focused on One Thing, that a failed attempt just wipes us out. Having a diversity of interests is healthy, and it’ll put the One Thing back in its proper perspective. Not only that, but some of the best ideas and solutions come when you let your subconscious do the work.
No one enjoys failure, but I’m here to tell you to put your big kid pants on and get back into the game. If your endeavor matters to you, it might matter to many. Don’t rip everyone else off by giving up too soon. And who knows? You might just be here for such a time as this.
Tell me about your failure and how you turned it around. I’d love to hear!