As we come to the end of this series, let’s focus not so much on the failures – we all fail at something sometimes. Instead, we can learn from these 3 lessons in failure and how to get back up and move forward.
We tend to think of failure as something undesirable or even shameful.
Understandably, failing to achieve a goal often causes negative feelings, no matter how big or small the goal. But the lesson in the failure is how to get back up.
The only way to overcome those awful feelings of not having been “good enough” is by changing the way we define failure to ourselves. No one else.
Here are three ways to redefine failure for yourself and learn what it’s trying to teach you effectively.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
Learning from your mistakes is more than just thinking about what went wrong.
The first step towards using failure as a tool for success is to stop seeing mistakes as shameful.
Think about it: A mistake is a natural part of anything new you try. It’s also part of the human experience.
➡ Accept mistakes as a potentially necessary step towards achieving your goals.
In her article “Strategies for Learning from Failure” Amy C. Edmondson breaks down mistakes into three categories:
➡ These are the mistakes we usually think of as “bad” mistakes. They’re made by a lack of focus or attention to the steps needed to achieve the goal.
Sort of like saying you want to lose weight without paying attention to what your doctor tries to teach you, or to that book you bought, or even to common sense.
➡ These mistakes happen when the goal will only be met if you follow certain criteria and take all the steps.
Complexity-related mistakes are the product of many factors :
- Your own motivation
- Your previous skills and experience
- Your environment
- Your support network
And, finally, the resources you have to accomplish it.
If any of these fail, you might not be able to reach your goal.
In an article from Adam Mendler titled What Sales Executives Can Learn From Failure, having the freedom to make mistakes increases creativity and work performance.
➡ Without unnecessary pressures to avoid mistakes and the shame that comes with it, employees contribute more frequently and are able to express more original ideas.
Think about how many great inventions were discovered by accident…Post-It Notes, Penicillin…
Whatever the source of the mistake, removing any negative feelings about it and re-framing it as a source of new knowledge is the first step towards learning from failure effectively.
But what’s next?
Once you’re able to look at your mistake without judgment, think about how you got in the situation in the first place.
In his article The 4 Keys to Learning From Failure, Guy Winch suggests that you analyze 3 things:
- Your motivation level
- Your focus
- Your mindset
Was there a point during which you felt less motivated to achieve your goal?
Did something else distract you from it?
If your dedication and focus fell short at any time, make note of it and try to find the cause.
Identifying the internal and external causes that affected your motivation helps you prepare for them in the future.
In some cases, discussing the failure with someone you trust can help you see the issues from a different perspective. Rely on your support network to pinpoint what went wrong and how you could prevent it.
Identifying what caused the mistake is not enough to prevent it in the future.
You need to take steps to prevent that mistake from happening again.
If your goal was to write a novel in six months, you’ve probably identified a few reasons why you couldn’t achieve it – lack of time, insufficient planning, or lack of motivation.
But what can you do to stop those issues from getting in the way of your next goal?
- Looking at the example above, it’s possible that you could scale down the scope of the novel, spend more time planning the story, or set a specific time to write undisturbed.
Your Keys To Learning From Failure:
➡ Accept failure, but keep trying.
➡ Continue forward in spite of failure.
➡ Success or failure is dependent upon whether or not you keep at it.
➡ Sometimes failure simply means changing direction.
Believe in yourself.
➡ Failure is a chance to learn.
➡ Attitude about failure can make all the difference.
By accepting failure, analyzing its causes and defining how you can eliminate those causes, you set your self up to achieve your goals.
And, if by chance you fail again, start over!