- January 14, 2021
To succeed in life, you will have to overcome numerous setbacks and obstacles along the way. This is true even for the best-laid plans. The ability to keep going after failure is what differentiates between winners and losers. It is more important than a good idea, the perfect plan, or flawless execution.
Now I know that nobody sets out to fail. I have failed very many times before, but I didn’t expect it to happen. In fact, quite the contrary; I tried my best every single time and expected 100% to succeed. But the truth of the matter is that sometimes your best is not enough. Sometimes, no matter how hard or smart you try, life gives you lemons instead of oranges.
So what do you do then? Make lemonade of course! It seems so simple in theory, doesn’t it? Well, the real experience of it is anything but.
However passionate you are, failure messes your mind up; makes you feel like you don’t have what it takes to succeed. You will be tempted to throw in the towel when you don’t succeed the first few times. You will feel the urge to do something more ‘practical’, to be more ‘realistic’. You must resist. This is just your evolutionary mind trying to protect you from experiencing the same heartbreak you are feeling now in the future.
Success is usually preceded by failure. You cannot have one without the other. Accepting that you have failed is the first and most important steps in dealing with failure in a healthy manner. It allows you to do what needs to be done to rectify the situation.
However, accepting that you have failed is hard. After you have poured your sweat, tears, and blood into something, you might be tempted to keep trying long after the juice has run out. But this is counterproductive and might only be delaying the inevitable.
If you could predict failure before it happens, you could avoid those things that are doomed to failure. But we cannot see in the future, so you can only do something to reduce the fall-out. Acceptance is the first stage in this process. It allows you to move past that initial heartbreak and find some perspective.
Find some perspective
The first moment of failure is the hardest to get through. It brings with it a deadly cocktail of negative emotions including self-loathing, regret, fear, disappointment. The direction your life takes from here depends on what you do in the first five minutes.
You must NOT think about options here.
Instead, think about all the things you did wrong … and what you did right. Essentially, what you are doing here is self-soothing and self-comforting. It helps you to overcome that initial temptation to throw your plan in the trash bin and move on to something else. You don’t want to do this.
Once you climb off the success rocking bull, it is really hard to get back on again. After I failed in my first venture in 2016, it took me three years to find my way back. By then, all my initial progress had been lost. I had to start from scratch once more.
By evaluating what you did right and finding what went wrong, you take power away from failure. You learn from it.
Go back to the basics
This is the point at which you start thinking about your options. Whether you are trying a new diet, starting a business, or climbing the corporate ladder, failing presents you with the chance to re-evaluate. To ask yourself; “Why did I fail?” and “What can I do differently next time?” This is how you take back your power.
Re-evaluating helps you figure out exactly what you have been doing right and where your actions have not been contributing to your success. By eliminating the useless stuff and focusing on what works, you give yourself a better chance of succeeding in the future. It also helps you to find your options, evaluate them, and pick the option that gives you the best chance of succeeding in the future.
It is possible for you to fail even after you did everything right. This happens when failure is caused by external forces that are out of your control. In this case, failure becomes a compass direction for your success. It shows you the right way to go.
For example, you could be trying to start a business selling a product that does not have a market. Or maybe you were trying to lose weight and you are big-boned. In both of these cases, your chances of success are pretty narrow. To pivot; change your business model, focus on physical fitness instead.
There will always be an option that does not entail abandoning your dreams. It is up to you to figure it out.
You will know that you have overcome your fear of failure when you can comfortably start something new (or try the same old thing again) ever after failing the first time. The Brutish call it getting back on the horse. It is how you show that you have learned your lessons and that you are confident enough in spite of the failure.
In the final analysis, failure is part of the success process. Even the biggest winner you know has failed at something in their life. What sets the losers and the winners aside – the great differentiator – is how they handle failure.
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