“The Gift of Failure”
Every human being on the planet fails. Every day we fail. Sometimes these failures are minor oversights yet every once in a while we fail in a big way. We fail to such an extent that it changes our lives, our careers, our businesses, and our families and friends… forever. Recently one of my contacts posted online that a colleague was going to prison for 5 years for a DUI that severely injured another person. That failure has changed many lives.
Most failures are the result of lapses in value judgments. Lapses that cause you to value something of lesser value over something of greater value. In some cases, failures are caused by a series of incorrect value judgments. In other cases, you experience failure through no fault of your own – you’re simply a victim of the circumstances or other’s poor value judgments. Regardless of the cause, failure causes a net loss in value to you and the world.
Failure hurts. Failure is emotional. Failure fills you with regret. Often you want to hide out, cover it up, blame others and run as far away from the failure as possible. Failure sucks. Failure can be devastating. Failure can destroy dreams and expectations that seemed reasonable and within reach.
However, failure can also be a key ingredient to your success. While failure hurts, it can also be an amazing gift. Again, it comes down to perspective and value judgments. In Og Mandino’s book, The Greatest Salesman in the World, he gives us a great perspective: “The prizes of life are at the end of each journey, not near the beginning; and it is not given to me to know how many steps are necessary in order to reach my goal. Failure I may still encounter at the thousandth step, yet success hides behind the next bend in the road. Never will I know how close it lies unless I turn the corner.”
When I was in Girl Scouts, I learned how to sail in a lake in Punxsutawney, PA (yes, where the groundhog comes out for Groundhog’s Day). When you set your sail, you have to constantly focus on adjusting it so that you can get to your destination. You’d like to think that you’d take a straight line from where you are (point A) to where you want to be (point B), but that isn’t the case. You are constantly being taken off course because the winds and waves are always changing. They are not cooperating with your goal to go directly from point A to point B. The vast majority of the time, you are actually off course. You aren’t on that straight line from point A to point B. Yet, as you keep resetting your sails you eventually end up safe and sound at your destination.
Life is no different. Failure pushes you off track and away from your desired destination. How you respond to failure is what will determine your success.
Do you try to avoid failure? Are you unwilling to accept failure? Are you unable to admit your mistakes and say you’re sorry? Do you hide from failure? Often times our minds overvalue our ego, our need to be right, our expectations of perfection and in doing so, we lose the ability to learn and grow from our failures because in our mind we believe that we can’t or don’t fail.
Do you replay your failure over and over and over again? Do you live in the past and become mired in regret and depression unable to move forward? In this case, you never learn from your lessons because your mind is stuck in the defeat. Your mind is incorrectly overvaluing the value of failing and repeating it over and over. It isn’t through repetition that we learn from failure. It is by trying on different perspectives until we find the ones that will cause us to act differently or respond differently the next time.
The truly successful leaders and people in the world see failure as a gift. They use each mistake, each hurt, each loss to find the opportunity to add greater value. They look at how they could use their strengths to view the situation or circumstance from a new perspective and grow themselves or others. They don’t focus on how to manipulate the circumstances but more so on how to grow and learn as a person. When faced with failure, successful people are accountable for their decisions and yet responsible for what they are going to do next. They know that failures can open doors and push them to do things that were previously outside of their comfort zone. True leaders thrive on failure. They harness defeat to accelerate them toward their next victory just as the sailors harness the wind to propel them toward their destination. Instead of allowing failure to get them down, they use it to lift themselves and others up. They look to add value to the world and to their lives despite the failure.
The key to being successful is understanding how to take different mental perspectives… to look at the failure from different angles. Successful people don’t get stuck in one perspective. At Break Free Consulting, we teach you how to use your best mental perspectives to rise above the failure and look around and know that you have the ability to set your sails and use the winds and waves to safely arrive at your destination. I hope that you’ll take a few minutes to complete our free assessment and then schedule your free consultation with me. I can show you how to use your best thinking to reach more success.