I'm A Failure, And I'm Proud Of It!
May 12, 2015
Failure is inevitable. You can't escape it. In order to be successful you must fail; and you must fail often. I was reminded of this fact recently after I was presented with a shot at an amazing career opportunity. Something I really wanted. I spent weeks preparing and planning for every possibility eventuality, working hard to ensure success was mine. I knew what I wanted was just outside of my comfort zone - and past experience - but I knew I had a strong chance at success if I applied and demonstrated myself well. Unfortunately, sometimes no amount of preparation, hard work or desire will guarantee you'll succeed. I came up short. I had failed.
When you're focused on winning, you don't consider, nor should you, the possibility you may not achieve what you set out to. It's not surprising then that when failure hits you square in the face you begin to question yourself; a better person would have seen this defeat coming and found a way around it! What was I thinking… of course I was going to fail!
That's simply not true. There is not a single person in the world who has not seen failure. We need to remind ourselves that failure is actually good for us. Every time we don't succeed we're learning. Failure makes us wiser, more experienced and more prepared for what comes next. It is all too easy to let failure beat us. We can give failure too much power over our emotions allowing it to make us feel inferior. When we don't handle our failure properly it will halt us from moving forward.
Here's some steps to take when failure presents itself in your life:
Don't take it personally. Just because you haven't found a successful way of doing something doesn't mean that you are a failure. It's crucial to make that distinction and to separate the failure from your identity. Taking it personally will only deflate your confidence and self-belief -- and you'll need those!
Don't care what others think. We are easily influenced by the people around us and what they think or say about us. It can be easy in these moments to feel that people are judging you. Don't let anyone make you feel ashamed. You were brave enough to try. To take a chance. Doing something and failing is better than never taking a chance in the first place.
Understand your failure. It is important to ask yourself what you learnt from the experience. How can you improve? Was the failure completely out of your control? What would you do differently next time? Once you have answered those questions you can start working on a plan to develop yourself in the areas you have identified. Understanding helps you forget the failure and instead begin focusing on what comes next.
Be relentless and try again. Commitment & perseverance are traits found in every successful person. They are committed to achieving -- to winning -- to succeeding. They don't take failure personally, they treat it merely as feedback. They learn from the experience, dismiss the thoughts of others, and set off again with dogged determination to do better this time.
It was Zig Ziglar who defined success as failure + perseverance. He was right! You are unlikely to succeed without failing. Success is a journey full of obstacles and setbacks. Successful people keep pushing themselves forward… learning, experimenting and stumbling towards the end. True failure would be stopping when you hit an unexpected setback. Imagine if these people had stopped when they failed...
- Thomas Edison apparently failed 10,000 times while he was inventing the light bulb
- Oprah was fired from her first TV job because she was "unfit for TV"
- Stephen King's Carrie was rejected by 30 publishers
- Walt Disney was fired from his newspaper job because he "lacked imagination"
- Founder of KFC, Colonel Sanders was rejected over 1000 times when he was trying to sell his recipe before he finally got a yes
- Jerry Seinfeld walked out on stage at his first stand-up comedy gig and just froze. He was booed off the stage
- Harrison Ford was told by movie execs that he simply didn't have what it takes to be a star. Tell that to the $210 million he has earned since
- J.K. Rowling's first Harry Potter book, The Philosopher's Stone, was turned down a dozen times by publishers before one eventually gave it a shot
- Michael Jordan may now be thought of as the best basketball player of all time but he was actually cut from his high school basketball team
Failure is part of life. Nothing worth achieving was ever done easily. Embrace failure. Repeat after me… "I'm a failure and I'm proud of it".