When we give ourselves permission to fail, we, at the same time, give ourselves permission to excel. – Eloise Ristad
Even being a smart student and university ranker in my MBA, I failed many times. Today, I am enjoying my life due to my experience and experiments with my failures.
After a successful career in Brand Management in India, I decided to marry and migrate to Canada. But, life wasn’t easy for me there.
I struggled for two years to get a job. I consistently failed. All the certificates and degrees were looking like a piece of paper to me.
I didn’t lose hope. I forgot all my previous education and taught myself new IT courses with self-learning methodology. After continuous efforts, I got my first job.
Do you know the strange part?
I struggled 2 years to get a job. I constantly failed. I forgot all my previous education and taught myself few IT courses with self-learning methodology. I got my first job where I was paid more than my wife who was born and educated here, and that too in a field for which I had no formal education or degree!
I was so happy.
I used to tease my wife that how smart I am!
I bought a home and car. My daughter kept me happy and busy all the time. Life was going all well.
Turning Point in Life: Self-Discovery
One fine day I got laid off with 25 other people due to downsizing at my workplace!
I was again back to square one. I then decided to work for myself. I started my blog and kept hustling.
I don’t believe in blaming the company, new country, economy or any other thing. I firmly believe all these factors have helped me to reinvent myself! It’s always a refreshing experience for me.
Most people keep on saying that their life decisions are influenced by the surrounding contributors including parents, teachers, siblings, peers or anybody who has influenced them.
In this blame game, they forget the fundamental truth:
In the end, the decision is taken by the individual only. For no reason, we have tons of weird labels in our mind for million of things.
How One Failure Changed My Life
Traditional Interpretation: Success is good, and failure is bad.
One should talk about success with proud and hide their failures with shame. Huh!!
By taking away failure from the bad category, you will start feeling different about it. There is nothing bad about failure.
If you view failure as a friend, both success and failure won’t seem opposite but complementary to each other.
Always Remember: Failure comes with two precious things.
- Information: The success indicators resides in your failures. Look for it. Failure has messages, hints, lessons and other relevant information that you can use effectively to be successful or to improvise your next attempt.
- Motivation: Failure provides great motivation, wisdom and adds maturity to your character. This wisdom and maturity add a charismatic factor in your personality. By failing many times, you become strong to beat all odd moments in life.
Some Known facts about failure:
- Failure is as inevitable as death in life.
- Failure is pretty unavoidable.
- Without failure, one can’t think about growing in life.
And still we hate failure with all of our passion, don’t we?
Dreaded F word: Important yet so misunderstood
It is because most people have a strong tendency to focus on negative sides of failure and completely ignore its positive contributions.
It is because when we meet failure, all our wisdom gets evaporated and we find ourselves deep in the ocean of sadness!
When we start acknowledging the brighter side of failure, the golden opportunities wait for us impatiently.
In fact, failing to learn a lesson from failure is the only failure in life.
If we know why failure happens, what is our typical reaction to a failure, and how we can embrace our failures efficiently and positively; we can redefine our perception of failure altogether.
Let’s understand it one by one.
Why does failure happen?
Failure occurs for three reasons:
- When Learning Curve is Involved
When you are trying to do something for the first time for which you have absolutely no or a little knowledge, your success will come after a series of constant small failures or occasional huge ones.
It is natural and perfectly normal. It will happen no matter how well you prepare.
In the initial stage of any project or goal attainment, if it involves some learning curve, you are bound to make mistakes. You can learn a lot of things by making mistakes.
These failures, however, are the positive signs. It indicates that you are moving towards success and not standing still.
- Not Being Serious About Our Desires:
If a student is not serious about the career, failure waits patiently for showing its true colors. In the beginning, no one takes the career options seriously. In the end, failure is suppressed with these lines ‘If I had more time, I’d have accomplished my dreams’.
If a householder is not serious about the financial responsibilities, money crisis becomes a problem shortly.
Try being unmindful for food and exercise, and you are bound to experience weight gain or loss of health, sooner or later.
Seriousness doesn’t mean you have to lead a strict and monotonous life. It does not mean you stop living life to the fullest. The main key is to find the right balance in life. Align the actions with your goals or desires to see favorable results in life. If not, be ready to experience failure.
- Accident Happens
Even if you are driving at the right speed following all the traffic rules, there is a possibility to end up meeting with an accident.
You can’t control the action of another driver on the road.
Similarly, we all have fair chances to meet with failure accidently. There is nothing you can do about it. If you ride a car, you can’t mask the risk of an accident. Similarly, you can’t ride in your life without hiding the possibility of failure.
How to Overcome Failure and Achieve Success
- Oh! I am not good enough
Self-doubt is always the easiest and comfortable feeling on the face of failure. We start thinking that we don’t have enough skills or knowledge to be successful.
- I think I am not able to do it, or I cannot do it
The moment we fail, our mind (chatter box) starts murmuring these lines:
“I can’t do it” “I won’t be successful at it” “I want to give up.”
Two Big Fears of Life
If we taste the failure, two concerns find a permanent home inside us:
Fear of Failure
Fear of Failure forces us to give up the task on hand or stops us from taking the next goal or assignment on hand.
Fear of Rejection
Fear of Rejection happens when we are hyper concerned about other’s opinions.
We get caught by the biggest disease of the world “what-others-would-say-or-think-about-me?”
Reactions to failure create more negativity in our internal system and make us weak and brittle.
Redefine the perception of failure in such a manner that each failure takes us an inch closer to our success.
Well, how to do that?
How to Embrace Failure Effectively and Positively?
- Repeating Four Magical Words:
According to Brian Stacy, a thought leader, and a famous life coach, “I CAN DO IT” – are the four magic words that you should repeat yourself over and over again to overcome any destructive criticism that others have done to you.
You just need to do re-programing of your brain by the exact opposite words. “I can do it, I can do anything I put my mind to it” – practice this affirmation daily while brushing your teeth, taking a bath or while driving.
Rather than playing the blame game, make a good use of that dead time by thinking positive thoughts.
- Taking Complete Ownership of Your Life:
If you are crystal clear about what you want from life and what you wish to do about it, then you must take complete responsibility and ownership for yourself.
Full ownership comes from an attitude where you subscribe to no complaints, no excuses, no criticism or no blame philosophy. No matter what happens!
From now on you just say:
“I’m responsible for myself. I can do anything I put my mind to it.”
Let us understand the process:
- When you start taking the responsibility, you start feeling powerful about yourself.
- When you feel powerful about yourself, you become confident.
- When you become more confident, you start experiencing a tremendous sense of personal empowerment that eventually enables you to overcome any failure that your encounter.
- Not caring about other people’s opinion:
Fully functioning people never complain nor explain. They never feel the urge to explain their acts to anyone else. If you want to be fully functional, stop caring what others think. Just keep doing your work. Just ignore them without saying anything. Direct all the energy on yourself.
- When failure happens to hold onto your emotions:
What is the first thing you encounter while experiencing failure?
Failure triggers the sensitive switch. You start feeling bad about yourself. It creates a welcoming environment for uninvited guests:
Your negative thoughts.
In no time, they control the way you feel and think. In the end, it leaves you utterly powerless and weak.
When you experience failure, immediately ask your mind and heart to STOP thinking about it. Hold onto your thoughts and emotions for a while.
Focus and analyze your failures. Understand the reason for your downfall.
Ask yourself: What are the contributing reasons or factors behind my failure?
Is there anything about you, your limitations or is it a mere accident? Try to figure out. It’s even better to do this analytical thinking with pen and paper.
After learning lessons from your failures, take immediate actions. Even if it requires taking great actions, just do it! Don’t procrastinate.
In this way, you stay away from all negative thinking. Give no space for useless crying and blame game. In this action-approach, you remain the captain of your life with total control and ownership of your life.
- Express yourself:
Are you getting frustrated by repeated failures?
If yes, everything is working fine. Congratulations!! You are a normal human being. It is a human tendency to feel sorry for any unsuccessful event. Never suppress your feelings.
Take a moment and express your emotions:
- Tell your near and dear ones
- Write it down in your personal diary
- Say it aloud on your phone recording system.
Our perceptions are mostly based on how we feel, understand and interpret ourselves, other people, events and our circumstances. Most of the time we take no pain to examine, question or redefine our perceptions! We simply take them as granted truth!
What is your perception of failure?
Failure is something we all experience not once, twice or thrice but often multiple times in our life. Like all dualities, failure is as important as success.
Diamond cannot be polished without friction. Gold cannot be purified without fire. The phoenix must burn to emerge. Similarly, people must suffer the harsh phase of failure and trials to come out polished and purified. With that experience, their life becomes better, not bitter.
Failure, indeed, is a sign pointing towards progress. However, it depends on us what lessons we are taking away from this golden opportunity.
Author Bio: Bharat Jhala (Warrior) is a founder of Approach Your Actions and he is passionate about helping others develop an Action-Approach mindset to achieving their goals with absolute clarity, confidence, and centered actions.