Failure! What a heavy word! It sounds so final. I’m a failure, I’ll fail, I knew I’d fail. It takes me straight back to those school days when I dropped the ball in PE class or when I made a mess of that speech in front of my classmates and all the laughter and embarrassment that followed.
Failure, it’s a harsh word that cuts deep.
Yet we use it with ourselves all the time (often it’s that pesky unhelpful internal dialogue). “I’ll fail, why bother”, “Damn, I failed big time”, “They didn’t like that, I knew I’d fail”.
But if we step back and take a reality check, is what we label as failure really failure? On a scale of 1 – 10 (10 being catastrophic), it’s probably a 2 or maybe a 3. What we label as failure is really a bump in the road of your life.
5 Keys Ways to Live beyond Failure:
Learning to live beyond failure involves accepting that life doesn’t always work out how the way we want it to and that’s OK. These 5 key lessons helped me to learn the tricky art of living beyond failure.
- Look at the bigger picture. Just because you ‘failed’ at a task does not mean you are a ‘failure’. Putting it into perspective, it is only one task/event out of all the other successful things you’ve done in your life so far and are yet to do. So this time it didn’t work out… that just means it is a small bump on the road of your life’s journey. A bump that next week no one will think about and in a year’s time you won’t even remember.
- Appreciate your courage to act. To step up, to venture out of your comfort zone and to move from thinking to actually doing takes courage. The easy option is to sit on your hands and to watch others take risks trying something new. It takes courage to test your limits, to push your boundaries and to explore further. Not everyone has the courage to act so give yourself a moment of appreciation and recognition for your courage and action. The real failure is not having the courage to act. See what true courage and inspiration looks like here.
- Realize that failure is not fatal. Mistakes are part of life. We all stumble and fall at times. We all make mistakes, some small, some bigger. For most of us messing up is not fatal, we will wake up tomorrow and the sun will rise. The world will still be turning and what we call failure will only be a temporary side step in your path forward. Owning your vulnerability is a powerful act of leadership.
- Learn to appreciate the lessons. Sure it didn’t work out and you might ‘fail’ again. Heck I’ll go out on a limb and say I’m positive you will ‘drop the ball’ at something in the future (I know I will). What really counts is taking the lessons from the experience to become wiser for it. There are always valuable lessons in the experience, they may be hard to see and appreciate at the time, but they will be there. By learning to appreciate the lesson, you have moved forward and are better equipped for your next challenge. By appreciating the lessons ‘failure’ is never failure, merely a small hiccup on your path of progress.
- Build Resiliency. If you go through life succeeding in everything you do, that’s great, you’re a star. But what happens when you don’t succeed? You tend to fall further. When things don’t go as you’d planned, you have the opportunity to tap into other resources, to adapt, to be creative, to reach out – all essential skills in your future successes. When you ‘fail’ you tap into your reserves of strength and you learn to get up again. This is where the extra 10% that separates you from the pack comes from.
By changing how you think about failure, from it being a catastrophe to a learning gift on your path to success, you will not only enjoy your progress more but you will also transform yourself into a person who moves ahead in leaps and bounds.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt
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