Failure. That one word can change your entire mindset. I know I’ve had days that felt like my soul was sucked out through a straw – all because of something I screwed up. Failing makes us feel like we’re worthless, like our skills are lacking, and, sometimes, like we’re completely on the wrong path in our journey.
The word “failure” brings negative connotations and sends our emotions into a tailspin that can be difficult to recover from.
In some ways, your concern may be justified. Maybe your skills really are lacking. Failing at something because we didn’t know how to complete it is not something that you should make a habit of. If you’ve failed at something, and your skills really are lacking, take a class or otherwise invest in yourself, so that you can learn the necessary skills. This failure is an easy one to fix.
“The real failure is when you stop trying” – Walt Disney
Like lacking skills, many failures are actually opportunities that come to us disguised as failures. There’s an old axiom in sales that tells us that every “No” brings us one step closer to a “Yes”. While this is generally true, it can be a frustrating journey to wade through those negative answers until we are able to close the sale. But this gives us the opportunity to improve ourselves. When I’m feeling like I’m failing at something, I try to determine why I’m not succeeding instead. I look back at the steps I’ve taken up to this point (was that email poorly worded; did I wait too long to follow up, was I overbearing?), and try to put things into perspective.
If you can pinpoint a specific area that needs improvement, then you’ve just given yourself an opportunity to better yourself.
Rarely, failure does signify that we are actually on the wrong course. I have a friend who used to work in customer service. She started off in retail, and moved into the service side of things through promotions and extra training. She worked really hard to get where she was. Her skills were on target, and she did her job the way she had been trained to. But after the new shiny factor of the job wore off, she realized that she didn’t like it. In retail, she had time when she wasn’t around customers, and, even when she was, she had more happy customers than unhappy ones.
In customer service, everyone is mad. Even though she was great at it, dealing with these unhappy customers every day was really having a negative effect on her personality. She began dreading going to work, which, of course, caused her performance to suffer. She began to fail at being a customer service provider. It was then that she knew that she was on the wrong path. She moved back to the floor and was later able to move into a management position that utilized her new skills and training, but didn’t expose her to negativity all the time. It made a huge difference!
Failure only means you are on the wrong path.
Even though my friend failed at her new job, she didn’t wallow in the failure. She viewed returning to the retail sales floor not as a step backwards, but as a step towards finding the right path. She needed to take a breather and find out the best path for her. Once she got on that path, she was able to make a great move into a job that she loved.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it. You will fail. Failure is, unfortunately, inevitable. You can look at it like a dirty word, and whine about your situation, or you can break down the reasons why you failed, and use it as the opportunity that it truly is. Failure provides us with the opportunity to grow and broaden our horizons.
If I hadn’t made the mistakes and failures I had along the way, I would never have ended up on the path I’m on, living this most amazing life of FREEDOM.
Embrace your failures and learn from them. Strengthen your weaknesses and tone your strengths. And above all, never be afraid to fail or you’ll never have the courage to make your dreams come true.