Dealing with failure

One day everything can be going fantastically, you feel like you’re nailing it, and then things change...

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..Things start to go wrong.

Failure is such a harsh word, maybe it’s because it’s about not meeting our goals or objectives. However, when we don’t achieve the goals that we set out to accomplish, whether it’s work or in our personal lives, it elicits negative emotions, which can be really hard to let go of.

Failure is a part of life, it’s not a measure of how good we are or our worth, it’s a process that we go through to get to the place that we want to be.

So how do we overcome failure?

In many cases we grew up being told that it’s not ok to fail, that we need to do well. That way of thinking has been hardwired into our brains; we believe that failure is a negative and that we must try to avoid it. Stop right there, it is absolutely ok to fail, how many times did you watch your child fall before they finally managed to walk to the sofa? Did they stop trying because they fell?

Take a moment and accept that you didn’t get the desired result, accept that it’s ok and put a plan of action in place to try again.

Find a sounding board
The way that we view what we are doing and ourselves is very different to how those around us do.  If you are struggling with the feeling of not being good enough or feel like you are getting into a rut, find a trusted friend or colleague that you can talk to. Talk through your problem or idea and let them feedback.

Getting a different perspective, or just being able to talk through your problem can help you to process and think about things in another way, and to think differently about finding a solution.

Stop using the word failure
From now on lets switch out the word failure with learning.  Instead of saying we failed at something, we could instead ask what we learned. Whether something didn’t quite work out how you wanted at work, or your day didn’t go to plan you can apply this thinking and take something from the activity anyway.

In fact, no where is this summed up better than in Thomas Edison’s very famous quote:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

So, accept the things that you can learn, and find that 10,001 solution that will get you to where you want to be.

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