Article Written by Kelly Harris
I see you.
Things didn’t work out the way you planned. You failed once again at that thing that you are supposed to be amazing at.
Begging your pardon, but I must ask.
What was it?
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what it was because failure is like breathing.
The real question is….
Now that you failed, how do you move forward?
To move past failure, you need to understand that everyone is going to fail at some point, what to do when it happens to you and how to turn failures into opportunities.
Here are 5 takeaways from failing that everyone needs to know.
Everyone fails at some point.
Everyone is going to fail.
Sometimes you feel like you failed when you miss a deadline or get overlooked for that promotion. Sometimes you feel like a failure because you were not as successful as you would like to be or because you currently have no clients.
Hey, it’s ok. Run your own race.
The first thing that you must remember is that FAIL simply means First. Attempt. In. Learning.
Too many people see failure as a destination; That failure is permanent, that once you failed, that’s it, you’re done.
Failure, my friends, is only permanent when YOU decide that you’re done.
Repeat after me: You are not a failure. You are amazing! You’re just experiencing a bump in the road of life. Ultimately, whether you succeed or fail will be dictated by how you deal with this situation.
You know that voice in your head that isn’t your conscious?
The mean girl (or guy) voice that whispers the mean words that you would never say to another human being out loud?
You have to be careful with this voice, because it is a wily one. Like it or not, that voice is always going to be there.
You can listen to it (I don’t recommend this!) or you can choose to turn down the volume on that voice and turn up the volume on your gratitude for all the things you do have and have done.
That voice is quietest when you decide that you must move forward and when you become ok with taking messy action (more on this soon!) In the meantime, be kind to yourself. Use mistakes as learning tools. Guard your mind and remember that it is ok to take a breath and tell yourself how amazing you are. Mistakes happen. As long as you take the time to learn the lessons that come with them, then all is well.
Keep Moving Forward
A favorite Disney movie in our house is “Meet the Robinsons.” One of my favorite quotes is from that movie. In it, young Louis’s fear of failure keeps him from achieving his potential until he meets Wilber. Wilber’s family teaches Louis that despite the pitfalls of life, one must always keep moving forward. Young Lewis is petrified because another of his inventions failed to work and he is devastated. The family begins to cheer his amazing failure, much to Lewis’s shock. In that moment, Lewis is told “From failures you learn, from success…. Not so much.”
In life, you have two choices. You can cry “Woe is me” and give up and let life happen to you or you can keep moving forward. Choose to keep moving forward. Choose to fail faster. You and your dreams are worth it.
Take Messy Action
This one is hard. Once you have failed, the hardest thing to do is to move forward. So how do you do it? You take action. Action doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, most often it will not be perfect. Don’t wait for perfection my friend, it will never come. Decide instead to do something. It may be ugly, and it will be messy, but oftentimes those lessons learned through messy action are some of the best ones.
Move the Needle
One of the best ways to move past failure is to do a ‘Start, Stop, Continue’. At the end of a project or even just periodically, you should schedule this type of review. Basically, you list one or two things you should start doing, one or two behaviors that you should stop and one or two things that you should continue doing.
Moving past an occasion of failure requires action, and not just any action. Moving forward requires a quick evaluation of actions that you can do that will move the needle of the compass of your life or business in a positive direction. This can be tricky but by reviewing your current systems and behaviors, you can positively impact your life as you move forward past the failed attempt.
Failures are Opportunities
Get comfortable with your relationship with failure. Failures are opportunities for growth. Thomas Edison, who invented the lightbulb, was once asked how it felt to fail a thousand times. Let his reply stick with you. “I didn’t fail. I found a thousand ways not to invent a lightbulb.”
Always ask yourself, “What did I learn?”, “How can I make this better next time?”, and “What went right that I can use again as I move forward in this crazy thing called life?”
As you grow and learn, you will find that the most growth will happen at your line of discomfort, where the ground feels unstable.
Most likely, it will happen through trial and error and there will be failures along the way. Failure is an amazing teacher and the lessons that come through failure are a bit harder to forget.
You’ve got this!
You have always had it!
So take a breath and go get your message out into the world!
- Haddad, Lahcen. Seeing Failure as an Opportunity To Learn From (and Leapfrog into Success). February 12 2018. Accessed on November 29, 2021 https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/308943
- Meet the Robinsons. Directed by Stephen John Anderson. 2007. Disney Studios.