Franklin Roosevelt had many failures throughout his life, yet he was able to overcome them with fortitude and tenacity.
Failure is a given in life; expecting to sail through without a hiccup is unrealistic and sets you up to fall harder when failure does happen. Avoiding failure also prevents you from focusing on gaining the resiliency needed to cope with it, a vital element of bouncing back.
It is unfortunate that in societies obsessed with success and achievement, failure can be made to feel like the worst thing that could ever happen to a person. The reality is that failure is commonplace but so is overcoming it and pushing through to more successful endeavours in the future. Even where a failure cannot be salvaged, there is always something to be learned from it. In this article, you’ll learn a little about how to overcome failure through having the right attitude. When you don’t let the mishaps of life keep you down too long, then nobody else will be able to keep you down too long either.
Life’s hard knocks are as common as life’s success knocks. To expect the process of living to always be smooth sailing is to invite a lack of realism into your life. It happens to the best of us. Failure helps to create balance in your life and presents an opportunity for personal growth. Accepting the inevitability that things won’t always go your way is an important part of avoiding becoming bitter and twisted, or of preventing yourself from simply resting on your laurels and never pushing further to realize your full potential.
- Learn to love finding out that you’re wrong about something. That’s not failure; its enlightenment and the path to finding the right way.
- Read How to control perfectionism if this behavioral trait is holding you back in life. Perfectionism causes us to fear failure and to feel we’re personally a failure when we’re faced with it. Seeking to always be perfect sows our own seeds of disappointment. Trying and failing is a much better teacher of what it means to be human than never trying and never succeeding.
You Are Good
Remind yourself that you are good enough. Leo Babauta suggests that not believing we are good enough rests at the heart of fearing failure. Failures serve as proof of this greatest fear, causing us to want to withdraw and not try again for fear of being further exposed as inadequate and incapable. However, this fear is not founded in reality; nobody is perfect and everyone will err at various points in life. The real difference between people who become successful and overcome failure and those who do not comes down to how you manage failure and how you view its impact on you. Feeling inadequate is a commonplace human feeling that even very public, very successful people feel but they don’t let it keep them down. You are good enough; all you need is to give yourself the go-ahead to keep
Whatever you’re feeling about a failure, don’t lose your composure over it. Look at it this way – it won’t make any difference to the outcome itself whether you blow your top or stay calm but it will take a lot less energy and maintain your reputation if you choose the latter response. If you’re really frustrated and angry, channel these emotions to motivate you to start again.
- Don’t take your anger out on others: It’s not good to bottle up feelings, but you can’t go around taking out your anger on those around you for no good reason. Go for a run, a swim, or a boxing session to relieve tension and give you space to think. Just do something focused and energized to distract yourself from the initial intense feelings until they calm.
- Take your time: People don’t usually recover from a large failure overnight. It takes time for the emotions to heal. That doesn’t mean you’re entitled to mope though. This time is better spent going over how to do it better next time and building up your resilience.
Forget About How Other People View You:
Don’t be obsessed about what others are thinking; their criticism reflects their own inadequacies. Not only will any very obvious failure soon be yesterday’s news, but if you think other people are judging you (and maybe they are, maybe they aren’t), it won’t be long before they’re too busy worrying about their own failures to sling mud at yours. After all, everyone’s going to fail now and then; inflicting gloating on someone else has a way of boomeranging right back, a reality which serves as a natural form of tapering off constant criticism. Most of the time they haven’t a clue what effort has gone into what you’ve done and what you’re trying to achieve – it’s all too easy to be an expert critic without being privy to the inside information.
- Allow each failure to serve as an opportunity to strengthen your determination in the face of criticism. This is a far more positive and self-sustaining response than giving in to believing the often nasty and thoughtless things other people can say.
Choose Balance, Not Unrealistic Negativity:
Shift out of your head space, all of the negativity in your head. The reality is that you will recover. And the bonus is that you will gain knowledge, insight, and experience – wisdom that only those who tried something can lay claim to. Step outside of your personal negative sphere and reach out to the people around you who care about you; enjoy their company and learn about how other people cope with failures instead of simply focusing on yourself.
- Visualize each failure as a stepping stone to a stronger, more resilient self. Treat each failure as a gift of learning what not to do in the future.
- Respect the humility that comes with failure. Too much success can sometimes lead us astray and cause us to grow an unwarranted sense of being infallible and feeling superior to others. Failure can knock the stuffing out of such unrealistic self-aggrandizement and help set you back on the right course.
Stop Worrying, Start Laughing
Worrying doesn’t build solutions… while humour enlightens. Yes, the sun will come up again tomorrow. Yes, things might be miserable for a little while but how will worrying help? Think back to a time when you worried a lot. Did it make any difference? Most likely not, apart from giving you more wrinkles and gray hair. The greatest thing you can do for yourself during failure is to inject humour into your reflection of what happened. While there will be a period in which you feel especially tender, being able to laugh at yourself for mistakes can be an important part of the healing process, readying you for moving on again. Being able to say “Oh I did that, ha, ha, such a way to stuff up, ha, ha!” is part of putting failure into perspective.
- Be very careful that you don’t take on other people’s mistakes or circumstances as being your failure. Humour is one way of telling you that you don’t need to carry the world on your shoulders and that sometimes, things just happen, no matter what you do or do not do.
Review What Your Failure Has Taught You.
Write down what you’ve learned from the experience. There are always things to take away from a failure, to inform your future direction. It might also be the case that you have made the failure seem worse than it is; partial failure is also partial success and if you can draw out what was successful and build on that, the sense of having failed lessens. Sociologist Hugh Mackay believes that we don’t value failure in the way we ought to. Stating that failure is often interpreted as a sign of personal inadequacy, he says that this denies its vital role as part of the process of maturation throughout life. In other words, the learning never stops and the lessons include:
- Failure can help you discover your best self. Failure is a signal that you’re willing to press on and discover new talents and the edge of your existing ones; reaching beyond what you know into what you don’t know.
- Failure is about mastery. It’s easy to flip from one new thing to another and be a Jack or Jill of many skills but a master or mistress of none. It’s much, much harder to have the patience to master one thing really well and to do it with precision and exactitude. And to master something, one must fail at it, a lot.
- Failure teaches you about will-power, persistence, self-discipline, and the value of hard work. One of the signs of living in fear of failure is distraction. When you allow distraction to overtake your life, you’re comforted that your distractions can hide your potential to fail. Ironically, distracting yourself is a failure in its own right – a failure to take the time to keep trying, to continue toward perfecting whatever you’re learning to do or seeking to become. Ultimately, failure teaches you the value of persistence and hard work.
Stay In The Present:
Fear of failure is a future projection of worry and a reliance on what happened in the past. If you’re stuck in this kind of thinking, you’re living life according to what might happen. Author Leo Babauta suggests that the response needed here is to “just do it, now, in the moment… bring yourself back in the moment and focus on what you’re doing right at this moment.” By remaining in the present, you stay focused on the potential of now and allow your creativity, smarts, and innovative drive to bloom. Past failures are foundational lessons for better understandings in the present and an improved sense of living now; the future is created through your commitment to the present rather than your present being lead by your fear of tomorrow’s possible losses.
- Embrace fear. Failure can only keep you down if you continue to fear it. Embrace the fear and you release yourself from its control. Allowing fear to control you renders you vulnerable to being controlled. Unchecked fear can cause you to let others make decisions for you in life; while that may be a recipe for not taking responsibility when things go wrong, it can also mean you lose your sense of creativity, innovation, and even your sense of self. Help show people it’s not only fine to fail but healthy to break this fear!
Allow yourself to fail on purpose
Personal development guru Steve Pavlina recommends failing on purpose. He suggests that it is a good thing to set out to do something that you know will fail provided it won’t harm others or have long-term negative consequences. He recommends learning something in which you have no talent, trying something beyond your skills set and asking for something when you know the answer will be no (such as a raise, promotion, etc.). From doing this, Steve believes that you’ll experience more benefits than losses, such as learning how to handle failure, how to extract key issues, knowing your limits, and unearthing the value of partial success.
Focus on Trying Again.
Dale Carnegie once said that it was essential to “develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.” Persistence is the source of success for the majority of people on this planet. Overnight successes are rare; they are usually people who have been trying and failing and trying again many times over. Successful ad man Simon Reynolds believes that lack of persistence is a major reason as to why people fail; giving up too soon means that you’ll never know whether what you’re seeking to do or be was achievable and he says that this is the case for “the majority of people”!
- Don’t confuse lack of persistence with a goal that’s not possible to achieve; most times it’s the lack of persistence and not the goal that’s the problem. Naturally, doing things the exact same way that lead to failure is not the answer; instead, focus on the goal and take the lessons from what didn’t work to show you how you can find new, improved ways to reach your goal this time.
Keep growing, all your life. Popular motivational coach Anthony Robbins says that we don’t just grow for ourselves – we grow so that we can contribute well beyond ourselves. This is an important thing to remember when you’re proceeding through failures. Your experiences are available for others to learn from if you’re willing to share them, as well as being willing to share with others how you pushed beyond failure into a more fruitful and fulfilling outcome, and even what happened when you couldn’t overcome the failure. This helps everyone become more understanding and accepting of the role of failure in success-driven societies.
Ditch Boredom and Live Large.
Defy those bumps and really live! Failure is the flipside of success and without it, there could be no joy in pushing through the odds, to know what success truly feels like when achieved. At the end of the day, it’s a funny world where we’re all longing for everything to be simple and easy without any bumps on the road; the sooner you realize that life doesn’t come with automatic smoothing agents, the sooner you’ll be happier about experiencing the bumps. And just imagine how boring life would be if you had nothing to improve or aim for! Keep in mind that the feeling of failure is the feeling of being alive. It’s a sign you’ve given things a go, pushed boundaries, and bounced back.