Turning Epic Failure Into Epic Success

Let’s be honest, most of us carry our past failures around as we try we move forward with our lives. We may not think about them everyday, but when new challenges arise, our failures are never too far away and  remind us of what we once attempted. Once we finally attempt to take new risks,  doubt will try to creep in and causes us to question our ability to succeed. Our fear of failure will often speak louder than the voice whispering to try again.

So how do we prevent failure from having this paralyzing effect? We expose it for what it truly is… a stepping stone for future success. Here’s a simple process for changing the way you look at each of your failures:

  1. Examine it. Take a past failure and examine it. Examine means to inspect in detail or investigate thoroughly. Though we often play our failures over and over again in our head, we don’t typically want to truly examine them, because that means having to be vulnerable in an area we might not feel comfortable with. But do it anyways and do it by removing yourself from the failure. Pretend you were hired by someone to look at a specific situation with a new set of eyes. This is not about your personal ability. It is simply about examining the facts, all the facts of the situation, so that you can accurately see a clear picture and move to step 2. I’ll admit this can be difficult, and at times may require someone else’s input to be completely objective. Have a friend or trusted advisor help you examine the failure if you’re struggling. Then, move to step 2.  

  2. Determine lesson learned. Next, determine the lessons learned as a part of the examination. What knowledge did you gain from this experience? What did you learn that you didn’t know before you started? What can you walk away that will help you approach similar endeavors more effectively? What worked? What didn’t? Write it down. I remember doing this exercise after having to shut down a company I’d invested all of my time, effort and money into for several years. I failed and it sucked because I felt like a failure. But, when I took a step back, I realized there were three very valuable lessons that had nothing to do with me as a person and everything to do with our business strategy that, if altered, could have produced different results. It was a lightbulb moment!

  3. Create a new plan. Often we sit in the wake of our lost dream and never create a plan for trying again. We don’t create a plan because we don’t truly understand why we failed and what could have been done differently. We often just think we failed and that’s all there is to it. However, now that we’ve been able to look at our failure from a different perspective, we have the tools we need to try again. Only this time, we will be equipped with more knowledge and power to win the second, third or fourth time around. Take a step forward and figure out what your game plan will be when you try again based on the lessons you learned. Will you research more bring in other opinions, start smaller, go bigger? Take what you learned from your epic fail and apply that wisdom to your future plans.

We all have the choice to learn from our failures or to let those failures define us. The most successful people in the world have failed . . . many times. But they didn’t stop at failure, they applied lessons learned in order to succeed the next time. If you think because you failed, you won’t succeed in the future, you are wrong! You won’t succeed in the future because you didn’t learn from your failure and try again.

Failure doesn’t define your ability, it provides you with a stepping stone for future success. So, don’t let your failures hold you back. Take what you’ve learned and go build your dream!

Chris CapehartComment