Failure can provide an immediate, gut-wrenching feeling of discomfort and shame. We’ve all been there. In fact, if you’re failing, you’re in good company. Jim Carrey was booed off stage during his first stand-up comedy performance. Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first job because she was deemed not fit for TV. Henry Ford’s first two businesses failed. 12 publishing houses rejected JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books.
For some, the feeling of failure is enough to stop them from trying again. The difference between the successful people mentioned above and their competition is simple: they got up and tried again. Here’s how you can do the same.
Why failure is good
Before all else, you must understand that failure is good. The feeling of failure is uncomfortable, to say the least. But here’s the thing: if you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough. Failure is simply a sign that you are working on your growth. It’s a step along the path to success. It will either teach you a lesson you needed to learn in order to succeed – or, it will show you that you need to redirect your attention elsewhere. Most importantly, failure is proof that you’re putting in the work, and that’s the first step to success.
How to make failure positive
- Step outside of your comfort zone, but stay within your strengths
In other words, choose your ventures wisely. That doesn’t mean that if you’re a basketball player, you should never try hockey. Instead, play to your strengths with whatever objective you’re working towards. If you fail, you will have grown your skills and learned something for your next attempt. Knowing that you can fall back on your strengths will help you have a more fearless mindset.
- Watch your self-talk
Your internal monologue might be secretly tripping you up. The way you talk to yourself is powerful – it can be toxic and damaging or empowering and uplifting. So when you fail (and you will) allow yourself to feel your feelings, then pick yourself up and figure out how to move on. Don’t ruminate on it with a bunch of mean self-talk.
- Be consistent
Once you’ve failed, the hardest thing is to try again. You have to get over that hurdle. If you consistently work on a skill, you eventually master it. That’s how people learn instruments, become athletes, get promoted to CEO, etc. No matter how many times you fail, the most important thing you can do is show up again.
- Embrace imperfection
Failure simply means you’re trying. Unfortunately, society places a lot of expectations on being “perfect” at every moment. However, no one is perfect and we’re all just faking it until we make it. You need to remind yourself of this fact, and then embrace imperfection. Imperfection equals growth. When you do this, you’ll find it easier to take action and you’ll spend less time stuck in indecision. Doing things imperfectly is much better than doing nothing at all.
- Ask for help
When you find yourself struggling to get started again after a failure, use your resources. Set up an accountability partner. Find a mentor. Hire a coach. Whatever route you take, having an external push will help you return from failure and rediscover the opportunity you set out for.
- Consider adjusting your goal
While having a resilient mindset can help you overcome failure, sometimes you have to recognize that the goal you set out to reach isn’t what you’re meant to do. For example, if you set out to be the best salesman ever but you hate cold calling and schmoozing, perhaps sales isn’t the right industry for you.
Listen to your gut – when it isn’t the right fit, you’ll know. Instead, ask yourself why you failed and if you need to readjust your aim. Perhaps instead of cold calling, you should do internet pitches instead. Or, maybe you realize you feel much better selling a product you believe in and switch industries. After a failure, you should take time to reflect on what didn’t work so you can do better moving forward – sometimes that means changing the goal.
If you’ve recently experienced failure, breathe. Take time to reflect and learn. Don’t beat yourself up. Call upon your strengths and your accountability partners as needed. Then, get back out there – show up consistently and imperfectly. You never know when this might be your last failure! What have you failed in recently? What will it take for you to try again?