Failure. Aiden thought his idea was great. But when he shared it with the team, they all jumped on it - and tore it to pieces. He was upset and brooded about it for days. He completely shut down in the next meeting, afraid of failing in front of everyone again.
Failure is a bad word to many. You see it as an ending, as proof that your plan didn’t succeed or your ideas weren’t good enough. You fear you will be the "weakest link" and are afraid of failing in front of others.
The truth is, failure happens to everyone. The only thing that separates people who succeed from those who don’t, is a true understanding of the power of failure. That power comes in the ability to try a course of action, test whether it succeeds, and learn from the results. This builds an even greater understanding of what will create success. Success requires that you learn from mistakes and missteps along the way, rather than falling into despair and giving up.
Opportunity lies in every defeat. Here are just a few reasons why failure is the key to success:
1. Failure is a Function of Trying
The best way to measure your progress at something is the number of setbacks and “failures” you’ve had. Failure is the blacksmith’s hammer that tempers the sword of success. If you want to get really good at something, you have to fail at least a few times.
If you look at all the great men and women throughout history, you’ll notice that they had one main thing in common. They failed – sometimes more than once. Think of Thomas Edison. How many times did he fail to find the right filament for his light bulb? There are various estimates, but they all range in the ballpark of a whole heck of a lot. Henry Ford knew failure intimately. So much so that he is quoted for saying the following: “Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.”
Clearly, failure represents opportunity and growth, not deficit and loss.
2. Failure is a Tool to Success
When you feel that sinking, desperate sensation known as failure and you take it to heart, you diminish yourself. You give your power away to an external event. Success is about learning how to use failure as a tool: to recognize why you failed, and how you’re going to change yourself, your situation, or your practice to create your desired end result.
Ask yourself the following questions when you experience a failure – big or small.
• What brought about the failure?
• How much of it is in my realm of influence?
• How can I use my influence to turn failure into success?
• What steps do I need to go through to try again?
• What can I do every day to ensure that my next try is done more intelligently?
You may want to get out a piece of paper and go through that list. Be completely open and honest as you ask yourself each question. Analyze your answers carefully and implement them – don’t procrastinate! Remember, failure is an opportunity, not a burden. Be grateful for a chance to grow.
3. Failure Builds Character
If you look at the events leading up to any significant victory, you’ll discover that failure is the biggest motivator. Just as the Colorado River created the Grand Canyon over a period of millions of years, success can also come in small chunks, and they’re part of any winning strategy. On the other hand, waiting years for something to happen isn’t effective when you can take action now.
You build character when you consistently test yourself and learn from failed attempts.
Success can occur in leaps and bounds for people who are ready for it. If you want to genuinely create value, you need determination and purpose. Failure is a far better character builder than any affirmation or fleeting goal. While each success will propel you by a small amount, failure will forge your career – and your personality – like nothing else will.
Perhaps Aiden can take a cue from Ellen DeGeneres who said ‘It’s failure that gives you the proper prospective on success.’ Sitting and brooding over one moment of embarrassment instead of embracing the opportunity to learn, will only set up a barrier to success and not a path. Success takes willpower, intelligence, determination, and grit. But more than anything, it requires failure in some measure. Aiden can use his experience as an opportunity to reassess how he can use this “failure” to create success next time.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. It is a mantra that will lead you to success. If you see personal failure as an end-all-be-all, or if your team can benefit from learning to come together to create more successful results, Joy can help. Contact her today!