Failure is inevitable for all of us; it is a natural part of life. Just not a part of life we inherently enjoy.
But it is important to remember that success is defined not only by your accomplishments but also by the experiences and knowledge gained throughout the process. By acknowledging each stumble and reframing it as an opportunity, you can use your failure as a vehicle on your journey to success.
Keep failure in its place
So you failed at something. Whether you didn’t get that job you spent months interviewing for or you completely dropped the ball on baking cupcakes for your child’s school bake sale — you made a mistake. Yes, it hurts, but it is also a new possibility in disguise.
Pity party, party of one
Give yourself a moment (or more, depending on what you need) to feel all your emotions. You are allowed to be disappointed in yourself. It’s okay to feel guilty toward those affected by your blunder. You can feel like the failingest failure of all the failures in the whole failing world if you need to.
Have your private pity party. Give yourself the time to go through the initial negative response cycle. Process the emotions — that is step one in moving forward.
Remember everyone fails
As you work through all the ugly, unpleasant feelings, remember that failures are normal. Everyone will fail at some point in their lives, in significant and small ways.
Many revolutionary and extraordinary individuals have used their misfortunes as catalysts on their journeys. It was their willingness to learn from failure and dare to try again that ultimately led them to true success.
J.K. Rowling was a self-proclaimed failure “on an epic scale,” struggling as a poor single parent after her failed marriage before that fictional wiz Harry Potter changed her life.
Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first TV station role in Baltimore after repeated harassment and humiliation. Yet instead of being bitter about the unfortunate situation, the modern-day icon credits this experience for helping her grow up in business and life.
Sara Blakely dreamed of becoming a lawyer in her youth but could not get into law school after failing the LSAT (twice). Later in life, she went on to pitch her infamous SPANX undergarment prototype to every hosiery mill in North Carolina, getting shut down each time before finally getting a contract with one.
So, you see, everyone is bound to fail (probably many times) at some point in their life. But now it is time to overcome your mishap and use the experience to move forward.
Failure as a step in your journey
By embracing each failure as an opportunity instead of a defeat, you can proceed with newfound wisdom for a greater chance of success next time.
Failure: life’s best teacher
“Courage allows the successful woman to fail and learn powerful lessons from the failure. So that in the end, she didn’t fail at all.” -Maya Angelou
The key to success is accepting the lessons found within each failure to adapt over the long term. Use each lesson to analyze what went wrong, identify areas for improvement, and implement changes to avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
The more you accept these learnings as the valuable feedback they are instead of focusing on the negative, the higher your likelihood of success will be in the future.
Adapt or redirect; repeat as needed
Often your failures can lead you in a new direction that you may not have considered before. With each misstep, you must reevaluate your path and ask yourself where you should be heading.
While being forced out of your comfort zone is certainly unpleasant, you will gain valuable insights about yourself through these difficult trials. You learn about your strengths and weaknesses, your passions, and your Intuition — the components that define you as an individual.
Do not be afraid to change course if you are pulled in another direction. Heed the signs your failure reveals; do not let your efforts be in vain.
Build strength and perseverance
To fall and get back up again takes strength and perseverance, both of which require time, practice, and self-reflection to appreciate truly. Use each failure to master these valuable qualities.
Remember that strength and perseverance won’t prevent you from encountering challenges in your endeavors altogether. Instead, they allow you to overcome these obstacles and grow from them. By harnessing these attributes, you can better navigate life’s twists and turns in the future and find the success you seek.
Appreciate both your failures and successes
“It’s failure that gives you the proper perspective on success.” – Ellen DeGeneres
Think of something you’ve completed in your life that fills you with pride. Was this something that came easily or something you had to work hard to achieve?
Our most remarkable achievements in life are those we had to earn. Without experiencing the pain and disappointment of your failures, you can never fully appreciate the victories.
To fail is to live
“It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” -J.K. Rowling
Looking back over the failures in your life, I hope you can appreciate what you have gained through these experiences.
When I reflect on my many mistakes in life, I sometimes feel overwhelmed with regret and embarrassment. (We are each our own worst critics, are we not?) These moments sting for a while but, luckily, are short-lived — because now I know that each of my “failures” was actually a lesson preparing me for something better.
Without my first marriage, I wouldn’t have my two incredible daughters. I wouldn’t have had to go through all the pain and confusion that forced me into the hard work of self-discovery. I would never have met JB or discovered what real love and partnership can be.
Without my corporate career, I might never have learned where my true passions lie. I would never have met some of the most genuine friends that have influenced me and will be in my life forever. I would not have had the experiences to grow professionally and personally to finally be confident enough to stand on my own.
It is through these “failures” that I continue to find myself and my way in this world. And in their aftermath, I have found my greatest successes.
Playing the game is always a win
In order to fail or succeed, you have to roll the dice in this big game of Life. You have to take a chance, put yourself out there, and accept whatever comes your way. Only by playing the game itself can we live a full and meaningful life.
No matter the outcome, win or lose, that feels like success to me.
What have you learned from your failures in life? How have you been able to use these experiences to ultimately succeed? Share with us in the comments!