Courage is indeed required in this life. I say this because failure is such a tremendous part of life and it happens to us all. So, is there a lesson to be learned from failure?
Successful people know so. Edison once said that it was “ten thousand failures” that led to the final achievement of a working light bulb. Therein lies a lesson about failure: keep moving forward regardless of failure or number of failed attempts. Lightbulb!
Here are 10 things I learned about failure.
1. Failing Doesn’t Mean You’ll Fail Forever.
This is a lesson that took me a long time to learn: just because you fail the first, second, or twentieth time at something doesn’t mean you’ll fail at it forever.
When I began my first business I made so many mistakes. Failure was a part of my process and I learned to embrace it. I always tell new artists that I am apprenticing to enjoy the failures because the further you get along in your career the less you are expected to fail. It’s essential to note that for any new skill you try, there is inevitably going to be a learning period where you may not be perfect and end up failing. However, just because you’re not good at something at the start doesn’t mean you can’t become great at it with time and practice.
2. Failing Doesn’t Mean You’re a Failure.
At the beginning of my career I would internalize that failure and in turn, wrongly believe that I was a failure.
But we have to remember that just because we fail at something doesn’t mean WE are a failure.
Whatever you failed at—whether it’s not beating your 100 Burpee Challenge, not getting the job you worked so hard for, forgetting your loved one’s birthday, or something else entirely—that doesn’t mean you’re a failure as a person. (Note to self: Buy bday present for Dad)
Even if you decide to give up on your failed venture entirely instead of trying again, pick yourself back up and keep giving life your all, you are not a failure, no matter what you failed at.
3. Failing sometimes leads to new, better opportunities.
In my 20’s I used to let myself get hurt by every single failure, whether or not it was important to me. I wanted to be perfect at everything, to be able to play every sport with grace and athleticism, to be able to kick ass at any career and to be able to pick up any new skill or hobby with minimal effort.
Nobody is perfect. Nobody is good at every single thing. And failing and then letting go of one thing will most likely help you find something else that ends up being a better fit in the long run.
There was a time I tried my hardest but I didn’t get the makeup job I wanted—now I know that if I had, I’d most likely be miserable, working at a job I wasn’t interested in. Had I gotten that job or any of the other dozens I applied for and didn’t get, it’s doubtful I would have ever started my own business.
Sometimes, one failure (or a string of failures) is life just trying to lead you in a better direction.
4. Know the difference between giving up and moving on.
If you fail at something and decide not to try again, don’t beat yourself up over it. Sometimes, you plainly realize that after giving something a try, it’s just not deserving of your efforts —and ultimately it’s better to invest our energy into something that matters more. This is a priceless realization and a win.
This doesn’t mean you give up on the things that are important to you. Because if you want something bad enough—no matter how much work it takes—it is worth overcoming every obstacle. This means you are realistic and know you need to rework the plan.
5. Continue forward in spite of failure.
Walt Disney was fired because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Here is the man responsible for an empire of imaginative movies and play for children the world over, and yet, he lost his job due to a lack of imagination! The lesson here is to keep moving toward to that end goal, even when other people fail to see the same vision as you.
6. Failure is a chance to learn.
Henry Ford is quoted as saying, “Failure is simply the opportunity to start again, this time more rationally.” Certainly, Edison would agree. You’ve just learned all the wrong ways toward that particular success, as Edison did with his “ten thousand” wrong attempts. Every lesson learned, every failure, is a movement in the right direction. Failure is a chance to learn. It is up to us to absorb and take note of the lesson.
7. Your attitude about failure can make all the difference.
“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm,” said Sir Winston Churchill. Attitude is everything. One of the most important steps you can take toward achieving your greatest potential in life is to learn to monitor your attitude and its impact on your work performance, relationships and everyone around you. Ever been around someone with a bad attitude? It is not pleasant. Breathe. Only you can control your mood, remember that.
8. Courage must be the watchword.
“If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. What we call failure is not the falling but the staying down or giving up,” a quote from Mary Pickford. We are all quite capable of mistakes and some of us, myself included, have made them. The key is to not allow defeat and failure to be the end-all. You must continue moving forward. It takes some serious courage to propose a new idea, to share your dreams and to ultimately put ourselves out there for everyone to see. Don’t worry about what people think and stay courageous.
9. Success can only grow from failure.
Success is built on failure. Indeed, failure is only a tipping point when one is on the road to success. Without failure, we as humans don’t learn and our movement toward success is stagnated. Let failure guide you toward success and be the stepping stones, instead of the stopping point. Failure IS a part of success and each failure is a step on the metaphorical stairs to success.
10. There is power in positive thinking.
It may seem crazy, but the more you believe something, the more likely it is to become real. This is true, both for negative and positive results. So the more you tell yourself that you are a failure, the more you’re likely to actually fail. But the more you believe positive things about yourself and tell yourself things like,” I can do this”, the more likely you’ll end up succeeding in the end. The mind is powerful, put it to good use.
“I can accept failure; everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” – Michael Jordan