Failure. It’s one of our biggest fears in life. It’s also one of the biggest reasons we get stuck. I get it. No one likes to fail. Been there – done that. It feels awful. Yes, failure can crush our confidence if we let it. But what if we took a different view on failure? What if we acknowledged that failure can lead to success.
Look. Failing hurts. When you fail, you might feel like giving up, berating yourself, or even blaming someone. But listen up. Everyone fails. Some of us fail many times. You might be surprised to learn that many successful people are not only grateful for their past failures, but they credit their present success to having tried and failed in the past. I can certainly attest to the fact that my failure in insurance taught me valuable lessons about myself.
Here are six ways to see how failure leads to success.
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Failures are Opportunities
The reality is, we all fail sometimes. It’s just part of life. But it’s what you do with failure that matters. You can accept that everyone fails, even you. Then, you can choose to learn from your mistakes, rather than dwell on them.
Successful people use mistakes as an opportunity to grow and change course. They understand that failure can lead to success. For example, let’s say you want to lose twenty-five pounds. To know that you’ll fall off the wagon if you see your mom’s homemade strawberry cake (my particular weakness), is useful information. I have come up against her strawberry cake many times and lost. Meaning, I ate waaaaay too much of it.
But – if I take my past experiences, knowing that the cake is incredibly tempting for me, I can prepare myself better. I can allocate calories so that I can have a small portion. Or I can implement some mindfulness strategies and think about how much better I’ll feel when I am down two sizes.
When you know you’re going to be faced with a challenge where you have fallen before, then you can take steps to avoid the pitfalls so you can stick to the plan to reach your goals.
Failures Show Where You Can Improve
When we fall short, we have an opportunity to improve. During my Junior year of college, I had to give a brief oral report in a Political Science class. I was terrified of speaking in front of people I barely knew.
I will never forget reading my report. My anxiety was so intense that I could barely get the words out. My jaws literally felt paralyzed and I didn’t think I would be able to get through it. I was barely able to physically get the words out, and when it was over, I was mortified.
But as time went on, I quickly learned that speaking in public was going to continue to be part of my college curriculum and also, my career. So the next year, when I had to give several speeches as part of a Communications class, I took action.
And practiced. And practiced. Then I practiced some more.
My botched attempt at speaking in my Political Science class taught me that I to improve if I wanted to move forward and I had to be accountable for getting better.
For several nights before my first Communication speech, I practiced in the mirror, I practiced in the car, and I practiced in front of my sister.
Guess what? I got an A+ on that speech.
To this day, if I have to speak in front of even a few people, I practice beforehand. It’s still intimidating and I really don’t like it. But that horrible performance in the Political Science class taught me to push through discomfort and work on improving my skills.
When we fall short in an area, we can take steps to address our weaknesses. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. Yes, it takes extra work. And let’s be honest, we don’t always like to think about our weaknesses. But if you can detach from the emotions of those weaknesses, you can objectively take steps to counter them.
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Failure Will Make You Stronger
One lesson from failing is finding out you can fall, dust yourself off, and keep going. Admitting that you tried and failed is scary, but courageous. Sometimes it’s easier to make excuses and blame situations and/or people when you fail. And sure, somethings situations and/or people can influence an outcome.
Let’s say that you take a brave leap of faith and try a new career. Something way out of our comfort zone. But for whatever reason, it’s not working for you. You’re grinding and giving it everything you have, yet the results are there. You feel like you failed.
And maybe, by the numbers, your efforts don’t result in success. But, through the effort and energy you put forth, what you have learned has value. And maybe falling short has forced you to choose a different path.
Maybe it taught you to keep getting up after getting knocked down. You learn you are tougher than you originally thought. Using what you learned from a failure to create a different strategy has value, and learning to take a different route is a priceless life lesson.
Failure Reminds You That You’re Not Alone
When you accept that failure is simply part of life, you are then in turn more empathetic towards others. You’re also more likely to encourage and support others in their journey. In return, you’re probably more likely to ask for and receive help when you need it.
Failure Will Teach You To Be Kinder to Yourself
Seeing failure as simply a temporary setback, and realizing we all fail, will make you more forgiving of yourself. You become less of a perfectionist and be less prone to self-doubt. So when you do stumble, just remember that failure can lead to success.