Author: Erin Reilly
No one sets out to fail so when it happens … well, it sucks. Failing your driver’s licence, flunking an exam, getting fired, going bankrupt, splitting up … failure in any part of your life isn’t pleasant.
Fortunately, no man is an island when it comes to failure. In fact, that dirty F word is what makes us human. And it happens to all of us.
Still, that doesn’t make it any easier when it actually happens. And often when it does, it makes us afraid to do ‘that thing’ again just in case we fail again.
Failure isn’t all bad
Even though the words are similar, failing at something does not make you a failure. While it feels dumb in the moment, it’s often not that bad when you look at it with a bit of perspective.
“Many of the world’s most successful people have endured failures,” says Amanda Smidt, Executive Director at The Career Development Company.
“I often use the example of Thomas Edison who, through his many failures and iterations, created some pretty amazing inventions. Bouncing back when things don’t work out the way we planned isn’t easy; there’s a certain amount of grit needed to get through and to come back as strong as, or even stronger than, before.”
Smidt says failure can teach us a lot about ourselves.
“Viewing our failures as challenges or opportunities for learning and growth, being hopeful and not judging ourselves too harshly allows us to move beyond our failure. The opposite is also true. By seeing ourselves rather than the situation as a failure, we can lose confidence and make bad decisions. However, by acknowledging and reflecting on what went wrong, we can take away some learnings and use them to move forward.”
Surround yourself with the right people
“Never isolate yourself when you face failure,” says Kim Rippin from Cinch HR. “Instead, seek out people who have faced the same type of failure as yours and share your experience with them.”
Being open and honest about the situation with people you trust will help you get through the worst of it.
“Don’t hesitate to be vulnerable in front of people. It’s hard to think straight when you have just failed, so it’s necessary to keep in touch with people. You could learn a lot from listening and being open, and it might even nullify the failure altogether.”
I get knocked down … but I get up again
Just because you failed at something, doesn’t mean you’re going to fail at everything. Don’t let one failure prevent you from taking the next step and finding success somewhere else. Get back on the horse and try again.
Some circumstances will always be out of your control. What you can control, though, is how you react to failure. It’s OK to be sad or mad for a time, but don’t feel sorry for yourself for too long. Take your time to objectively look at the situation and figure out where things went wrong, then turn your failure into an opportunity.