The Best Lessons I Learned About Failing

As it gets closer to the end of the year, it becomes a time for reflection and examination. Looking back on the year that has passed and think about our goals, our plans, our successes, our failures and all the life changes that have occurred in 2015. For many of us, 2015 opened new doors and we are proud to say we accomplished most if not, all of our goals. But for the vast majority of resolution-makers, it became another year of failures, lost dreams, ruined plans and grave disappointments. Personally, 2015 was one of the most challenging and arduous years of my life. I failed many times over, was successful at a few and had many trials and tests of my persistence. However, in the end, there is one great gift that 2015 has given me and that was a great lesson in failure. And of all the lessons I’ve learned on failure, these are but the 3 I found to be the greatest help in my ability to push through and finish the year on a successful note.

1) Failure isn’t permanent.

As a child growing up, one of my absolute greatest fears was that of failure. If I got anything less than 90% on a test I thought my world was coming to an end. It became so crippling that if there was even the hint or possibility of failure, I would quit before I even began. Now this is a problem that is not exclusive to me. As children, we are often taught to fear failure and avoid mistakes. Our society preaches perfection from our looks to our careers and as a result, many of us are so afraid of failing in life, failing at our jobs, failing our families that we refuse to even try and accomplish that major goal that’s been weighted on our shoulders for years. We would rather play it safe, not take chances, not explore, not even stick our necks out to try. But what society never tells us is that you don’t often get it on the first try and that it often takes repeated efforts to get to success. Failure isn’t permanent. It’s a setback and NOT a full stop. It is a chance for growth and a lesson in what doesn’t work, so we can finally find the one thing that does. Failure is a means to an end, not the end itself.

2) Failure is a Lesson, Learn it.

There is a big misconception that all those wildly successful amongst us must have been born with an innate ability to succeed, or just exposed to the right people and the right opportunities that have made them successful. The idea that they have never failed in their lives and if you fail you are just not worthy of success. But this just isn’t true. There is nothing wrong with failing. All the great innovations and all the great accomplishments involve failure. Most persons identify failure as the opposite of success, but it truly isn’t. Failing is rather the path to success and merely a process in the journey. The true opposite of success is not trying.  How can you expect to get ahead by sitting on your behind? How can you expect to succeed if you don’t even try? As arguably the greatest basketball player of all time Michael Jordan says, “I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” Remember, every failure is a lesson and an opportunity to return better, stronger, smarter and more prepared than ever before.

3) Failure is growth.

You can read a thousand motivational articles, listen to a hundred key note addresses and read as many books on success that you can find but nothing will improve you, or bring you closer to success than failure. Embrace your failures and grow from them. Use them as the propeller to keep moving forward towards all your goals. All successes are built on failure so focus on improving what has succeeded in the past and build on it. And if you aren’t failing then you aren’t trying hard enough, you aren’t taking risks and you aren’t growing. With each failure you grow, you become bigger, you learn new and important things and you get one step closer to reaching your goals. Failing sucks. But it happens to all of us. And how you react to the events in your life will be the biggest determinant of who you are.

I leave you with this quote from Winston Churchill, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”


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