This is a powerful word that causes most of us a certain degree of pain or regret when we hear it. Am I right? It is widely assumed that failure is a negative result of a particular action. When we fail, it usually means we have lost. We were proven wrong. Our credibility has been questioned. Our pride is damaged because we believed or hoped for something greater than what we accomplished. Most of us don’t post our failures on social media or add them to our resumes. We avoid even the thought of them, and at times, pretend they never happened. Whether it was a relationship that dissolved, a reaction we had to a certain situation, a promotion we didn’t get, actions we didn’t take, or a feat we didn’t achieve...we’ve all tasted failure in our lifetime. It is absolutely inevitable.
“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
– Henry Ford
My question for you is this: If failure is something every human will experience, why do we avoid it so adamantly? Hear me out . . . I want to challenge the status quo on this topic. What I have come to understand is this: failure produces growth. Whether in business, relationships, fitness, personal goals, or other pursuits failure is a pathway to success. It isn’t the continual string of successes that teaches us the biggest lessons in life, it’s...the failures.
When we succeed at something, it triggers a certain part of our brains: we are happy, proud, grateful, and excited. However, when we fail, it often stops us in our tracks. It stings, and that sting can last for a moment or a lifetime. Whether it lasts a moment or a lifetime is in your hands.. It’s in these moments where our power lies. That’s right. I said it! We have power in our moments of failure!
“When we give ourselves permission to fail, we, at the same time, give ourselves permission to excel.”
– Eloise Ristad
If I’m going to make any headway changing the commonly acceptable perceptions of failure, I’m going to need you to see the power of what failing gives you. Take lifting weights, for example. Any good trainer will tell you, “without muscle failure, your muscles will not grow.” This means, that you literally have to keep trying, keep lifting in the same motion, until your muscle refuses to finish the repetition. That’s when you know you’ve reached the point of growth.
It’s a similar concept with business, parenting, relationships, etc. You have to try and try things until you find your point of failure. And when you find that point of failure, you take a step back, focus on the reasons behind the failure and move forward again with a better understanding and stronger “muscles.” Can you see how closely intertwined failing and succeeding are? They literally go hand in hand. If you don’t allow yourself to fail (a.k.a. learn, experience, grow), you will keep yourself from achieving anything.
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.”
– J.K. Rowling
Without failure, we will remain exactly where we are, or even worse, regress. If that’s true, then why do we still fear failure? Let’s begin to change our belief about what failure means.
Process your past failures, write down the things you learned because of them:
- What do you know now that you didn’t before?
- What will you avoid in the future?
- What can you do differently next time?
Don’t let failing keep you from moving forward. Let’s begin to accept that we will meet failure along our journey, and use it as a tool for growth.