“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might has well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.”- J. K. Rowling
How can you develop the tenacity to push through disappointment, fear and failure?
How can you develop the power and flexibility to mobilize failure to propel you forward and make you flourish instead of feeling helplessly lost and giving up?
Every successful person knows for sure that if they had given up after failure, they would never have gotten to where they are now.
Here are a few timeless ideas on the astonishing power and efficacy of failure and how you can learn and grow from every failed event instead of feeling defeated and giving up.
1. Learning From Failure And Disappointments
“If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.” ― Henry David Thoreau
This bold statement from Thoreau makes a very important point on the very nature of failure and disappointments and how you can deal with them.
Usually, failure is accompanied with dejection, sadness and feelings that you may not want to experience.
For a moment if you quieten the stories and emotional charge around failure, you may see that failure is telling you important information on the path ahead.
Are you ready to allow the possibility of both success and failure and not reject every event that ends in a disappointment and label it as worthless?
“The person who failed often knows how to avoid future failures. The person who knows only success can be more oblivious to all the pitfalls.” ― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture
The truth is that failure seasons you and makes you experience the entire gamut of what life has to offer.
The more you fail, the more you develop the ability to navigate through life.
J. K. Rowling was getting divorced, lost her mother and was on welfare during the time that she kept the hope alive for her Harry Potter books that she conceived on a train trip. Rowling was rejected by twelve publishing houses before her manuscript was finally accepted by a house.
In her own words:
“Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I’ve met people who don’t want to try for fear of failing.” ― J.K. Rowling
Prepare yourself emotionally, mentally and physically for failure.
Decide to get beyond the emotional charge and stories associated with failure and ask yourself what is failure really trying to teach you?
2. The Power Of Perseverance
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” ― Winston Churchill
Ask yourself if you have developed the mindset to continue forward after and in spite of failure and setbacks.
Do you approach failure with a disappointing finality or as a stepping-stone to something better?
Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure. – Napoleon Hill
Successful people understand that most people will simply quit with the levels of failure and disappointment that they have learned to manage and successfully navigate through.
Life offers success and disappointment in varying blends and amounts. But as Zig Ziglar so eloquently says, what matters is not the fall but the ability and resilience to bounce back.
“it’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.”― Zig Ziglar
One of the greatest basketball legends, Michael Jordan missed thousands of shots and lost many games on his way to unimaginable success, fame and glory.
In his own words:
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Next time, ask yourself: When you fail, do you quit or do you bounce back?
Look at the data from failure and take action and work harder to fill in the gaps.
3. Are You Afraid of Failing?
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Allow yourself to distinguish between the act of failing and the fear of failure.
Usually failure itself is not as crippling as the fear that our minds generate in anticipation of failure.
“Failure seldom stops you. What stops you is the fear of failure.”― Jack Lemmon
Fear is the small word that makes you quit or not even try because in your mind you have convinced yourself that you are going to fail.
If you are afraid of failing at something, that is all the more reason to attempt something.
Go for it. You may be surprised at the results.
4. The Importance Of Enthusiasm and Hope
“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” ― Winston Churchill
Do you lose enthusiasm after a string of failures?
Do you feel a feeling of hopelessness that contributes to giving up?
It is very important to keep yourself motivated and inspired after the trials of failure.
Use the power of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to keep you going and to stay within the realm of enthusiasm.
Uncover aspects that you really enjoy and amplify those experiences. When you feel great, you are less inclined to quit and you will have more enthusiasm.
Hope and enthusiasm will be the first to go after failure. Hold on to them very tightly.
Prepare yourself by setting up external and internal motivators to keep you going even when you feel like quitting.
5. Failure Opens The Doors Of Discovery
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”― Maya Angelou
I love Maya Angelou’s words as they speak directly to why you need to fail.
Failure and defeat reveal many different facets of your personality and your resilience in the face of difficulty.
When you realize that you are able to look failure in the face, transcend it and still keep moving ahead, you develop great confidence and belief in yourself.
Allow failure to be the mirror that reveals more about you and how you can cope up with disappointments.
6. Fail and Succeed like a Scientist
“A thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions–as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
When you look at failure from the eyes of a scientist, you transform problems to experiments and failures to answers. The scientist is open to different questions and the possibility of different answers.
“I didn’t fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.”― Benjamin Franklin
And if you think that you have failed, so it shall be. However, as Franklin puts it so effectively that you find different ways to do it wrong.
Each way or mistake or failure will take you closer and closer to the success and solutions that you crave.
Look at failure through the eyes of a scientist.
Treat all failure and success as questions and answers. Some lead you where you want to go and some lead you away. All are important!
7. Why Being Wrong Might Be Key for Unleashing Your Creativity
“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”― Ken Robinson, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything
Every highly creative person known that their willingness to try out new things distinguishes them from others who do not attempt to do so.
And as Sir Robinson puts it, if you always want to be right, it is hard to come up with original and creative things.
Creativity above all is the ability of being wrong many times before forging a masterpiece.
One of the most prolific of all painters, Picasso is known to have produced a lot of work but not all his work is well known or is a huge success.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records:
“It has been estimated that Picasso produced about 13,500 paintings and designs, 100,000 prints and engravings, 34,000 book illustrations and 300 sculptures and ceramics.”
Is your need to be perfectionistic, correct and to be in complete control all the time interfering with your creativity and allowing yourself the leeway to make some mistakes?
Throw enough stuff on the wall to see what sticks.
Be prepared to be wrong and to be corrected. Keep moving on and see the results for yourself.
8. Why Failure Is An Important Part Of Finding And Continuing With Your Purpose
“I’d rather be a failure in something that I love than a success in something that I hate.” ― George Burns
Uncover the true reasons why you are pursuing your goals. Are you trying to become a success in something that you hate for all the wrong reasons like fame and money?
You may have to repeatedly fail in different things before eventually finding something that is aligned with your purpose and makes you happy.
Also, If you end up failing in something that makes you immensely happy, you will end up happier pursuing it instead of quitting and doing something different.
If you cannot shake an idea and it always comes back to you in dreams, messages, synchronicities and wishes, you need to pursue it regardless of failure or success.
“The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.” – Buddha
Ask yourself what makes you really happy and pursue it even if you are afraid of failure.
“No man is a failure who is enjoying life.”- William Feather
9. Are You Open To Great Possibilities?
“Failure pushed me to the wall of possibility.” ― Richmond Akhigbe
DO you believe in possibility or do you feel like you have no options? The ironic thing is that the more you allow yourself to fail, the more you get bold to try out new things.
But if you run away from failure, you are literally running away from possibility. Deep within every seeming failure remain the seeds of opportunity in the form of lessons, skills, mindset and resilience.
It is up to you to realize that failure opens the doors of possibility to try out other things or go deeper in the field that you have failed.
Do you think it is possible or do you think it is impossible?
Possibility + The ability to deal with failure + Action = Great Positive Power
10. On The True Nature Of Failure
“Remember that failure is an event, not a person.”- Zig Ziglar
Become aware of all the negativity and emotional charge and disempowering stories that you are associating with failure.
Change the meaning that you are giving to failure and the way you are looking at it and your life will transform instantly.
Associate failure and disappointments with challenging yourself and attempting to do better and you will have a better shot at dealing with it.
Gamify failure and disappointments. When you play a game, are you overly concerned if you fail sometimes? I hope that the answer is no. Challenge yourself to get to the next level and offer yourself incentives and power-ups to do so.
11. Are You Influencing Others To Succeed Or To Fail?
“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napoleon Hill
This is a wonderful reminder from Napoleon Hill that tells us that we have more influence that we care to admit.
Approach what you say to others a bit carefully because in our attempt to be excessively helpful, we do not want to plant the seeds of despair, hopelessness and failure in the minds of others.
Always tell others that they have more choice, control and personal power than they think they have in the moment and failure is but a stepping-stone to success.
Plant the seeds of success and the ability to deal with failure in the minds of others.
12. Improvise And Be Flexible With Your Plans
“The majority of men meet with failure because of their lack of persistence in creating new plans to take the place of those which fail.”-Napoleon Hill
Are you being flexible with your plans or are you too caught up with your idea of success that you are unwilling to look beyond.
From your vantage point, it may be difficult to see different viewpoints but tunnel visioning your plans and expectations is the sure way to give up too soon if you fail.
As Eric Ries of the Lean Startup says, launch quickly or build, measure or test if it is effective and learn from your mistakes to pivot or persevere.
Just like every good Jazz musician knows, improvisation is key to moving forward in the face of failure and not spinning your wheels.
Jazz musician Stefon Harris says that there are no mistakes on the bandstand. Watch the TED talk here.
According to Harris:
“Every ‘mistake’ is an opportunity in jazz.”
And Harris goes on to say:
“The only mistake is if I’m not aware, if each individual musician is not aware and accepting enough of his fellow band members to incorporate the idea and we don’t allow for creativity.”
Are you trying? Are you failing?
Are you failing forward and failing better?
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail Better.”- Samuel Beckett
How are you allowing the power of failure to propel you forward in your life? Let me know in the comments below.
Photo Credit: Jeffrey via Compfight
Thanks for this piece. Perfect indeed.
Harish Kumar says
Thanks a lot for your comment, Murphy!