How to be a Successful Failure
No one wants to fail. We all want to be successful. But sometimes, things don’t go
as planned. A project is way over budget, an employee you hired is not working out,
A job you thought you were perfect for hired someone else. Look at some national
stats: three-quarters of all students applying to college don’t get accepted; nearly
half of all businesses fail in the first four years; and a full 90% of people who
try to lose weight fail to do it. Failure can be devastating and hard to recover
from. You may want to throw in the towel. It may make you question what you thought
you knew about your skills and abilities. But there are ways to be successful at
failure. Here are some keys:
When someone fails, it’s very easy to give plenty of reasons why that have nothing
to do with them. There are always external factors or other people to take the fall.
By doing all that finger pointing the person at fault then becomes the victim, in
need of sympathy and support, not blame. Unfortunately, by doing this, the person
really at fault is unable to learn from their mistakes and is ultimately seen as
someone who will not be responsible for their actions.
See Failure As Temporary
If you internalize failure, you will be stuck in that space for a lifetime. If you
see a failure as an event in time, keep it in its proper perspective and move forward,
you stay in the achiever mindset you are developing. It doesn’t have the ability to
take hold and become a character flaw.
Focus on Strengths
People who focus on strengths rather than dwelling on their weaknesses will be able
to overcome failures much more quickly than those who don’t. And these people have
overall a lower rate of failure. Act on your strengths rather than try and fix your
weaknesses; it’s a much more useful way to spend your time.
Set Realistic Expectations
If you set goals that are too ambitious from the outset, you are doomed to failure.
If you haven’t run in years and decide to run next weekend’s marathon, you are setting
yourself up for failure. Making sure you can handle the setbacks but strategically
preparing for goals you can achieve is the best way to success.
Living with your mistakes just takes mental energy that can be better spent elsewhere.
When you experience failure, the best move is to have a short memory. Experience the
negative emotion and make plans to move forward with the next best thing. Nothing in
the past can be changed, why dwell on it?
Still don’t believe success can be born from failure? Here are a few examples of how
monumental failure can turn into tremendous success.
Arianna Huffington got rejected by 36 publishers as she tried to break into the business
as an author. Now, no one can imagine the online world without the Huffington Post as a
go-to for information and online content.
Bill Gates watched his first company, Traf-O-Data, fail and bust. It was truly a complete
disaster. A few years later along with his partner Paul Allen, he came up with the concept
for Microsoft and the rest, as we say, is history.
George Steinbrenner owned the Cleveland Pipers in 1960 way before he made a name for
himself with the New York Yankees. By 1962 under his direction, the team went bankrupt.
When he took over the Yankees in the 70s it looked like his bad decisions were following
him but he turned things around and from 1996 to 2003 they enjoyed six trips to the
Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper because he was told he lacked creativity. He
suffered more disappointments and failures until his films started growing in popularity.
Steve Jobs has always been known for boundless creativity and innovation. He skyrocketed
to fame in his 20s when he started Apple but when he was 30 it was over when the Apple
board fired him from his own company. But as we know, Steve recovered quite nicely.
Milton Hershey founded three different candy companies before he finally had success
with Hershey’s. In addition to the candy setbacks, he was also let go from an apprenticeship
at a printing company. But obviously he got it right with the Lancaster Carmel Company
which eventually became the Hershey empire.
Hopefully these inspirational stories and the tips above will give you the confidence
to face your failures, move past them quickly and find your next success!