Business is hard. Having a family is hard. Losing weight is hard. Life is hard. I’ve spent 40 years failing and I used to think that it was a bad thing. No matter how much I read or spoke to people my self assessments constantly produced a plethora of proof of me not being good enough at anything. This is not an uncommon thing and there are many of us who, on a daily basis, struggle with the lack of perceived success.
This cycle of self doubt has been, in my case, a direct result of my failures. I did not learn that failure was the most valuable thing that could have happened to me. I did not learn how to apply the lessons from those mistakes because I could not push past the crushing weight of self pity and thus destined to make the same mistakes and continue on a path that ultimately leads to the same place again and again.
How then does one break out of the cycle? How do you change your ingrained belief that failure is bad and that the end of the world is nigh? How to be positive and see the glass half full or quarter full or one eighth full? Well, there are actually a few simple rules that can be used to move forward.
Yes, you may have worked hard and you have disappointment so accept those feelings. Shout, cry, run, box or whatever way you want to express your frustration and hurt. You’re human and embracing the disappointment is important and integral to the steps that follow. The key is to not use this as an excuse to wallow in self pity. This period of reflection should be short. Worrying about the past, that you can’t change and the future that you can’t predict is of no benefit. Make your peace and move on.
What happened? How did the unfavourable outcome come to pass. With every experience comes learning and an analysis of the steps that produced the outcome will lead to information that will help you in the future. Not every instance will have a clear series of events, there are those instances where luck had a part to play, but identifying places where corrections could have taken place will allow you to recognise these steps in the future. Utilise the 5 whys technique to help get to the root of the problem and document the results. Use it as a reference for the future.
Understanding that you are not alone is a key break through. You are not the first to fail at something and you aren’t the last and if others can recover so can you. You just have to find what works for you, following someone else’s formula word for word is a sure way to fail again. Learning is the ability to take a concept and then apply that to your situation. One of the key traits of people who succeed is that they reflect, analyse and then start again. They take the learnings from before and refer to them when they have to make decisions or start down a new path.
The key to overcoming failure is to dust yourself off, stand up and keep plodding forward.
Has failure stunted your progress or have you faced difficulty and turned those learnings in to success? Tell your story in the comments below.