“Success is not final,
failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
~ Winston Churchill
“My dad encouraged us to
fail. Growing up, he would ask us what we failed at that week. If we didn’t
have something, he would be disappointed. It changed by mindset at an early age
that failure is not the outcome, failure is not trying. Don’t be afraid to
~ Sara Blakely
How do you
What if your definition
of failure is what is causing you to be paralyzed or stuck in that moment?
Failure is not an event! It’s a judgment about an event.
identity is not tied to outcomes. Outcomes are separate from the person, and
the people who execute the best are those who have an unwavering sense of self
no matter what happens.
One of the
greatest problems individuals have with failure is that they are too quick to
judge unique circumstances in their lives and brand them as failures. Instead,
they need to keep the bigger picture in mind.
Failure isn’t negative
Failure can be a
wonderful opportunity to grow and innovate. If you find that you are
consistently getting angry with yourself, chances are slim that you will be
able to resurrect anything from your experience. Your family, friends,
colleagues, and those around you may lose that opportunity to grow as well.
Failure is an
essential ingredient to learning and growth. The failure that occurs in your
life doesn’t shape you as much as how
you respond to the failure does.
The worst failure is not in the event itself. The worst failure is to choose
to remain paralyzed by it.
If we never have
blunders or mistakes in our lives, then we are probably not making any
decisions either. F. Scott Fitzgerald says something that pierces the heart, “Never confuse a single mistake with a final
Recently I came
across an excerpt called Rules for Being
Human, by Dr. Cherie Carter-Scott.
Here are a few rules I believe describe the state we should be in:
#1: You will learn lessons.
#2: There are no mistakes – only lessons.
#3: A lesson is repeated until it is learned.
#4: If you don’t learn the lessons, they get harder. (NOTE: Pain is one way the
universe gets your attention.)
#5: You’ll know you’ve learned a lesson when your actions change.
Can you imagine
Beethoven or Mozart trying to compose music so carefully that they never hit a
wrong note? Do you believe that they would have been able to compose epic
masterpieces if they completely avoided mistakes?
Beethoven was no stranger to mistakes, disappointments, and
failure. In fact, at one point in his career his music teacher said he had no
talent for music and “as a composer, he is hopeless.”
Some other examples of those who failed, yet went on to
12 publishers rejected J.K. Rowling, legendary author
of the Harry Potter books, before
selling her first book. Now she’s worth more than $1 billion.
Henry Ford went bankrupt multiple
times before he experienced success.
California-born French chef, Julia
Child, author and television celebrity, could barely cook until she was
thirty-four years old.
of the greatest thinkers and brilliant minds of our time, Albert Einstein, was
told by a schoolmaster in Munich that he would “never amount to much.”
of the most prolific inventors in history, Thomas Edison, was told as a
youngster that he was not that bright.
All great successes persevere in the face of hardship, denial,
and failings. They continue to believe in themselves and reject the idea that
they are “failures.”
As Elbert Hubbard said, “The greatest mistake you can make
in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” A beneficial result to
this might be, “If you want to be successful in life, continually fill your
mind with opportunities, not obstacles, so that you will create them.”
CALL TO ACTION
What’s the one mistake or
failure that haunts you? What
trusted friend can you share it with as a step toward robbing it of its
2. Embrace failure as a teacher and a
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.”
These words from
the legendary Michael Jordan should echo in the chambers of our heart, filling them
with hope and inspiration. Like Jordan and many other successful athletes,
high-performing business leaders, and entrepreneurs, failure should be looked
at with different lenses. How you view failure is a critical component to
future success. Failure, in so many ways, is the fertilizer for future success.
If you can
change the way you see failure, you gain the strength to keep charging ahead.
Failure is the price you pay for progress. How do you view failure?
Whether it be failure with a start-up, project, initiative, conversation, or
some other avenue in which success was the hoped outcome…do you view it as an
opportunity to grow, or do you see it as a stain on your credibility and as an
professionals and leading psychologists of our day believe that failure (small
and large) is necessary for growth. But it’s “how” you view that failure that
can set the trajectory of your future. Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at
Stanford University, believes that what people believe (especially about
failure) shapes the landscape of their life. She suggests that our
“self-theories” dictate the interpretation of our experiences, and ultimately
set the rhythm and boundaries of what we accomplish.
Think about it
this way: If you don’t put things in the right perspective, you’ll focus on the
extremes of success and failure and preoccupy yourself with a particular event.
Here’s the deal. Every failure you encounter you face a fork
in the road. You can give up or you can use it as an opportunity to learn from
your missteps, take the right action, and begin again.
Freedom to fail
Some of the best
organizations are the ones who don’t penalize a person for making a mistake if
that person used good judgment and was rational in his/her thinking. In
contrast, there are times when failure was from not exercising the values of
the organization, good judgment, and stewardship. In those times, the situation
or decision is confronted and corrected.
better a person is, the more mistakes he will make, for the more new things he
will try. I would never promote to a top-level job a man who was not making
mistakes…otherwise he is sure to be mediocre.”
~ Peter Drucker
After a mistake
and failure, the forces of mediocrity will align to prevent you from
proceeding. Keep your chin up when failure comes your way. Failure can be the fertilizer for future
success. Fear of failure and risk aversion tethers you to limit your
potential. Every failure you experience is an opportunity to take the
appropriate action, learn from your mistakes, and start fresh.
one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making
mistakes and becoming superior.”
~ Henry Link
Failure is not final.
You must know WHO you are and FACE your shortcomings if you
want to reach your full potential. That’s right. You must face your
shortcomings. You can’t bury them and pretend that they don’t exist. You must
see yourself openly, admit your failures, shortcomings, and mistakes honestly,
discover and embrace your strengths joyfully, and build on those strengths
continually and passionately.