According to the dictionary, failure is ‘a lack of success’. Yet science tells us that failure is actually a catalyst for success because overwhelming setbacks teaches us resilience.
In other words, when we learn from failure, we become wiser and stronger. We learn from our mistakes that lead to failures and they can lead to a series of unexpected consequences, such as the opportunity to explore possibilities we otherwise may not have had the chance to encounter should we not have ‘failed’ in the first place.
Most of us are pretty afraid of failure. Not that it’s ever within us to naturally embrace our failings, but in today’s modern society- a time obsessed with perfection and striving to always be the best- it’s uncommon for someone to hold up their hands and admit they failed.
Admitting failure is critical to be able to move forward and grow. Giving up after the first time can easily be a self-fulfilling prophecy because each time you quit, you reinforce the idea that failure is bad, which in turn will prevent you from trying again.
“It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all- in which case, you fail by default.”-JK Rowling
How you cope with, and what you take from failure is what can help you build success in the future. It’s important to learn to live with disappointments, and developing coping strategies to survive them are ones that will serve you well the next time you have to confront a similar situation.
If you see each failure as an opportunity to build your coping mechanisms and become better equipped to deal with difficult things, you’ll have found a benefit of what you have endured- and that can make it all worthwhile.
Don’t be afraid to admit you failed
It’s important to step up and accept how you’ve seemingly or otherwise failed. Embrace it. Then realise you’re still standing. The acknowledgment of failure doesn’t have to bring you to your knees. Instead, learn from what went wrong and see failure as valuable knowledge that you wouldn’t have otherwise learnt.
Failure can be a rewarding experience but only if you move forward with the knowledge you get from it. Focus on your efforts, on the lessons you learned, forgive yourself, pick yourself up, brush yourself off and give yourself a pat on the back. Remember failure doesn’t define you- it’s a moment in time that belongs in the past, so let it stay there.
Why is failure important for success?
Here are ways you can use failure to motivate you rather than discourage you:
Failure builds resilience
Accepting that your original ideas or visions didn’t work out can be difficult, but being open-minded to change and new ideas is essential to achieving success. When you start looking at your obstacles as opportunities, you set yourself up for growth and learn to be more flexible- great skills that help you to reach success. Building resilience allows you to face your failures head on and teaches you that perseverance eventually leads to success.
Failure teaches us lessons
You can learn and grow and become better after failure. Maybe now you can recognise your boundaries more clearly. Maybe now you’ll be aware of greater needs you were previously unaware of. Why not give yourself permission to fail because with failure comes self-knowledge and the opportunity to reflect, and whatever the lesson might be, learning more about yourself is never a bad thing.
Failure makes us more courageous
Failure can make you discover inner-strengths you didn’t know you had. You stepped out of your comfort zone to try something new and that’s a great thing whether it worked or not. Failure can cause you to temporarily shut down, but this gives you time to process your pain and mull over what happened, and ultimately search for better alternatives. Failing will likely feel discouraging at first, but in the end, it only makes you stronger and it’s the courage to continue that counts.
Failure creates opportunities
When one door closes another one opens. You’ve probably heard this saying a number of times- but it’s true and failure provides you with new opportunities that you can never plan for, which is quite an exciting prospect! Failure may feel like the end of the road but it’s part of your journey. Remember, a bump in the road is not an indication of the end, but an opportunity to overcome a challenge en route to your destination.
Failure encourages problem-solving
When we fail, we are encouraged to think of the steps we can take to avoid making the same mistakes again. Failing is an experience that requires problem-solving, and where there is a problem there is a chance to learn something new. A great example of using failure to problem- solve is Thomas Edison, inventor of the lightbulb. He succeeded in making his invention after conducting thousands of experiments before- he experienced failure in all those that preceded. He was quoted as saying, “I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that do not work.”
It’s okay to fail- we all do, but being open, speaking about our failures, and admitting how we feel can help us support each other better and feel more connected to one another. If you stop fearing failure and start embracing it as an opportunity to grow, it will become a lot less scary and you’ll soon begin to accept it as part of your journey to success.