How to Embrace Failure, Keep Going, and Win
There is a widespread movement afoot that's teaching young kids that the "f word" is a bad thing. Failure, that is. From banning traditional physical education games like dodgeball to making sure everyone's a winner no matter what, failing has gone from being a part of life to something we avoid at all costs. (See also: How to Learn From Your Mistakes)
Which isn't going to help anyone once they reach the real world.
There is no magical plan or "secret trick" to avoiding failure. Trust me, it's going to happen. Kids might be getting groomed to avoid it at all costs, but as a grown up you better prepare yourself for a healthy dose of failure, or you'll be in for a rude awakening.
Oddly enough, the more you fail the better equipped you'll be at handling it, which will increase your odds of success regardless of what you're trying to accomplish. Besides, losing can actually be good for you.
If you want to become better at coping with failure, you need to know the three steps to conquering it.
1. Don't Fear Failure
You are going to fail. A lot. Especially if you're constantly trying new things and putting yourself out there. (See also: 20+ New Things to Do Today)
- Want to start your own business? Failure central.
- Trying to get a new job? Most places will pass on you.
- Attempting to lose weight? That's right...you know what's coming.
Instead of trying to rack your brain with ways to avoid failure, you need to just accept that it's going to happen. Will it make you feel less crappy when you do fail?
But that's not the point. The point is for you to acknowledge that it's going to happen (and that it's OK), so that you don't stop trying things for fear of failing. Remember that just because you fail, it doesn't make you a failure.
This is the easy part, but it won't mean anything unless you follow through with...
2. Learn From Your Mistakes
So you've failed. You're ready to pick yourself back up and try again. What's the next step?
Some people blame their failures on everything and everyone other than themselves. Others get so down on themselves that they don't ever want to try anything again. Neither is productive nor conducive to success. The smart thing to do is to look objectively at why you failed and come up with ideas on what you could have done differently.
Do some research, talk to other people trying to accomplish what you're attempting to do (and those who have achieved success), and figure out other ways of achieving your goals. (See also: How to Get Things Done With Goal Sequencing)
That cycle of failing and becoming wiser and better prepared for next time is the closest thing to a "secret of success" as I can think of.
Which means the third step is crucial.
3. Move Forward With a Plan
You need a plan to move forward. After evaluating your earlier mistakes, come up with a new, improved way that will give you a better chance at success. (See also: Success Secrets You Should've Learned in High School)
Of course, there are times that we realize our goals weren't "meant to be." That's when we need to come to terms with failure and accept the fact that we won't always achieve what we're after… and that's OK, too.
One other tip that I've learned over time: fail fast. That process of formulating a plan and wholeheartedly attempting it can take forever. But if you put your best effort into it and realize quickly that it's not going to work, now you're ready for your next try without burning years of your life.
It's a fine balance, since you don't want to give up too soon, but at some point you need to draw the line and move on.
How do you embrace failure, learn from it, and keep going?