How To Overcome Failure And Use It To Thrive

A few years ago, a cult of failure arose in entrepreneurial circles for a while. Founders bragged about their past mistakes and talked about them like badges of honor.

But it’s easy to look back on defeats. Failure doesn’t feel like that at the moment. In fact, it’s terrible.

But the reality is that failure is an inevitable stepping stone on the road to success. If you want to be successful, you have to accept it. The best way to do this is to redefine failure as a tool for learning. This will help you come to terms with it – and even see the gift fail.

Here are three tools to look at your own mistakes so they can propel you to even greater heights.

forgive yourself It may sound corny, but setbacks hurt a lot more when you’re angry about them. It’s bad enough that you got a bad result at something you cared about. It’s even worse when your critical inner voice keeps talking about what a disaster it was and therefore you are.

It’s natural to feel this way, especially for high achievers. The trick is to have a set of phrases ready to use when the negative committee starts screaming in your head. Prepare in advance for the negative voices when you are in a positive state. Then think about the phrases you would say to a dear friend who is self-critical. Some examples might be “This is a temporary setback and you’ll get it right next time” or “You don’t have to be perfect”.

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If you’re not sure what to say, you can think about what you told a friend in the past when he was beating himself up. Or you can remember what a friend said to you in the past that comforted you.

Write these phrases down to have them ready for when you need them.

Focus on learning. Now that you’ve calmed your mind a bit, you can look at the situation more analytically. What went right and what went wrong? What would you have done differently? How can you use this situation to build your repertoire of skills to ensure it becomes a net gain and not a net loss?

A young entrepreneur was trying to improve her public speaking skills. She agreed to speak at a major conference and, unfortunately, it went very poorly. She was upset when she couldn’t get her slides to work, and she was so nervous her voice was shaking.

After calming down and discussing the painful experience with a supportive mentor, she saw what she could take away from it. She was usually someone who could improvise quickly in company meetings, so she didn’t prepare very thoroughly. However, her talent for thinking quickly in small meetings didn’t seem to translate to a large stage. She realized she would need to do a lot more preparation for future presentations, including rehearsals with a live audience so she could test her slides as well. A side benefit of this experience was that she began to prepare better for her all-hands meetings, which also went much better.

You win or you learn. If you’re not winning, then focus on learning. So you can win next time.

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Try it again. The worst result of failure is that it makes you stop trying. If you find yourself reluctant to try something difficult again, train yourself to try again instead. You could take a smaller step, or you could discuss your approach more thoroughly and bounce it off a few people to get their ideas. One of the perks of failure is that it makes you more thoughtful, but don’t let that become overthinking. Or risk aversion.

One executive created a rule for himself: if he suffered a significant setback, he made sure within 30 days he either tried a new approach or something just as risky. This ensured that he was always moving forward and wasn’t caught in the morass of feeling bad about things that hadn’t worked out.

When you accept that failure is inevitable and use it to learn and move forward, you will inevitably find greater success along the winding path of your personal and professional life.

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