BY MEGAN TAYLOR
For many people, the word “failure” comes with a negative connotation. Hearing that word could mean to some that you have given up, weren’t successful, and are now overwhelmed with feelings of dread, guilt, and sadness. But did you know that J.K. Rowling was rejected by twelve publishers before publishing Harry Potter and the Sorcerers’ Stone? What about the fact that Walt Disney’s first company, Laugh-O-Gram, went bankrupt or that Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team? Failure happens to everyone, but the key to success is to learn from it. Learning from failure is hard because it means you are admitting that you failed, and something didn’t work out as planned, and that’s okay. Here are some pieces of advice to help make it a little easier to use failure as a step to success.
- First, admit you were already a bit successful because you took a risk and stepped out of your comfort zone. Yes, it may not have worked out, but you did something to better yourself and to grow. Also, take note and write down what did go right for next time.
- Experience is the best teacher. No one is born perfect at a skill, trait, or profession. They may have been born with the ability to be great at that skill, but it takes practice, risks, and many tries to become an expert. At some point, a person will fail. Think about failure in terms of a lesson and something that will only help you move forward. Just be sure to never give up until you have accomplished your goals.
- Give yourself the grace to fail. Many have heard the phrase “being perfect is overrated,” and that is true. No human being will ever be able to succeed in perfection. Understanding you will make mistakes and fail means you are giving yourself the freedom to try new things and see where they take you. Failure is just a part of life that everyone will have to overcome sometime.
- Be aware of ways you can prevent failure when possible. Try to do things as correctly as possible the first time, but utilize your patience and take things slow. This is also important with learning from past failures. You want to try and not make the same mistakes twice. Just because there will be times you fail, doesn’t mean you should not do anything to prevent those failures.
- Failure can help create opportunity and creativity. When a person fails, new ideas, discoveries, and relationships can be developed, because you are looking at where you have been and where you want to go. Think about an inventor, such as Albert Einstein. When an invention doesn’t succeed at first, the inventor has to find another route to making it succeed. This route may require you to think outside of the box to find a solution, but will always help you realize something new that could be used for the better.
- A person can strengthen various character traits through these missed opportunities. Patience, courage, motivation, and perseverance are a few of the character traits that are involved with a person’s success or failure. Patience and perseverance are related because it can take time to pursue a goal and overcome challenges. Courage and motivation are also related. Think about how you feel when you fail at something. Most people want to give up and forget about it. But it takes courage and motivation to pick yourself up, learn from your mistakes, and continue to press forward. It can be hard to be rejected or not have something go as planned time after time, but when that moment of success does happen, it will be sweeter than ever.
Failure can be a powerful teacher only if a person accepts it. Don’t be afraid to feel the disappointment of failure, but in due time, get back to work, and success will eventually come. Once this happens, a person may realize that failure had to be a stepping stone in order for them to be successful. In fact, Steve Jobs once said, “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.”