Praise for Failure: 3+ Ways to Utilize Your Greatest Fear
“Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” — Winston Churchill
Failure is hard. No one wants to see all of their hard work seem useless. Not only that, it’s embarrassing.
I don’t need to tell you about failure. That would be a very long list. We are all too familiar with it and how hard and uncomfortable it is.
What we don’t often consider is how good and important failure can be when it is viewed correctly and then utilized to your advantage.
Have you ever played a game where a member of the opposite team makes a move thinking it is going to help them, but it sets you up beautifully for a counter-strike? Sometimes those moves even help you to win the game, even though they may have been intended for the opposite.
Life may seem like it’s taking a stab at you, but the secret is that life is actually trying to help you out. In fact, you are really on the same team. We just aren’t able to see how great that set up is.
To see failure in a better light, we have to be able to see the bigger picture. Don’t just focus on that singular event, but how that is going to fit into the bigger scheme of things.
No matter what you are trying to do, failure still has it’s benefits. Mostly because that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road. Success is still down the line a little bit, but it’s there.
In the meantime, consider the following:
Release from Perfectionism
It’s a trap. An illusion. Being perfect- at least according to how we are thinking of it- isn’t possible. You can’t just sit down at a piano and except to play Rachmaninoff just because the music is in front of you.
You can’t even expect to play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” if you haven’t learned how. It takes practice- and several mistakes along the way- before you can play the piece perfectly.
So why do we expect ourselves to perfectly execute a new project at work on the first try?
How do we expect to do anything without that learning curve?
I’m not saying perfection isn’t attainable. Just not in everything and all at once. It takes years and years of practice and mistakes and failures.
We can’t expect to live our lives as if we will never make a mistake. When we do make a mistake, we also can’t act as if it’s the end of the world.
Insights- What Works and What Doesn’t
Part of the reason you failed is that you had an idea you thought would work and it didn’t.
However, now that you have been through the experience, you have a much better idea as to what will work. Not only that, but an idea as to how.
You get so many more details by going through an experience, and then it’s not just luck getting you by.
It’s knowledge. And as we all know, knowledge is power.
It’s not just your idea and your project that you gain insights about, either. Life has a funny way of helping us connect the dots between two completely unrelated topics.
I recently finished reading a book that typically I wouldn’t have read. I didn’t see a need for it, it wasn’t relevant to me and my lifestyle at all. I was so wrong.
I have never smoked a cigarette in my life and have no desire to. But reading a book about how to stop smoking taught me a lot. For example, consider the follwoing quote from the book Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking:
“Responsibility becomes stressful only when you don’t feel strong enough to handle it.”
“Sometimes we look but don’t see, listen but don’t hear, touch but don’t feel. If one sense fails, the others step in.”
Just as a book that didn’t directly apply to my life can still teach me concepts and ideas that I need, so can failure give us insights in every area if we are willing to let it.
We just have to see what we are looking at, to turn Mr. Carr’s phrase.
Failure can be a good motivator for us to look at our lives and where we are prioritizing our time and energy.
If your marriage fails because you are spending too much time at work, that is a clear sign of where you priorities lie, but is that where you want them to be?
Failure can show us where we haven’t been giving enough time and attention.
It’s a great chance for us to stop what we are doing for just a few moments and look at our life. Is this really the direction we want to be going?
If not, what needs to change?
If it is, why were we splitting hairs in the first place?
Are you spending time on the things that are most important to you?
A failure is only a loss if your priorities are out of line. Sometimes a failure is an opportunity to let go of something we didn’t want in the first place.
I was a straight-A student growing up. My 4th year of college (it took me 6 to finish), I failed literally every class one semester.
I was being pulled so many different directions that it became impossible to succeed until I established what was most important.
I was studying social work at the time, and I could see that was not a direction I was willing to give my time, energy and focus to. College was important to me though, and I wasn’t willing to give that up, so I had to make a shift.
I found a major that I loved so much that I enjoyed doing the homework. I would take it with me to the beach (I went to college in Hawaii) and just be the happiest person alive. You know it’s good if you can still focus on it at the beach.
My failure in my classes seemed like the end of the world for someone who had always been a good student. In the long run, it was one of the best things to ever happen to me so that I could find what was really important to me and make sure I wasn’t miserable the rest of my life.
That year that I failed all of my classes was not the only failure I had at the time. I lost literally everything that semester. Everything I had built my life to be came crashing down around me. The summer after was a living hell.
However, the benefit of destroying a building is you now have a piece of land that you can build anything on.
You get to start over and build what you want and how you want it.
The life I built after that semester was not just the things I fell into. I had to figure out what I wanted in life and work to put things into place.
A clean slate allows us to be more intentional with our decisions.
This is what I want.
Failing gave me an out of a career I didn’t really want. It got me out of a relationship I would have not been happy in. It got me out of a rough apartment. And the list goes on.
By failing, I was able to use that experience as a springboard into a better and happier me. I tore down the fast food chain building and created a library building on that empty plot of land.
Failure is hard. It just sucks, it really does. I’m not denying that fact at all.
However, I’m also saying that our greatest tragedies can turn into our greatest opportunities and triumphs.
Picking up the pieces is hard enough, but then we get to take those broken pieces to create a mosaic of true beauty and success.
Failure is one of the major building blocks of success if you can learn to use it right. Don’t let it use you when you are the one in control of your story.
Failure is not the end of it.
Failure is just a plot twist along the way.
One More Thing
Still not sure how to utilize failure? Figure out how to use it to your advantage with my free guide. Don’t just let things crash around you, build on it!
Get my Free Guide Turn Your Negative Traits Into Assets(←Click Here and I’ll send it to you) to figure out where to start and some great tips on how to make a change.
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