“It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure,” Bill Gates said.
We tend to shower praise on those who have triumphed. But very rarely do we examine all the times the triumphant have failed, and analyze how they turned their failures into success.
Most people have the impression that successful people never fail. As a result, many people fear failure and shun those who have flopped.
You see this play out with sports fans. Whenever their favorite teams wins, they proclaim “Yay!, we won!”. But when that same team loses, the phrase becomes “I can’t believe they lost!”. See how quickly the brain wants to disassociate with losing?
If I conducted an unscientific poll, asking people on the street who they thought failed more, rich people or non-rich people, I’m almost certain that most people would say that it is the non-rich.
And they’d be wrong.
The problem with thinking that successful people never fail, is that it prevents people from becoming rich. The truth is that everybody fails at one point or another. In fact, millionaires fail more often than non-millionaires simply because of this reason – they take so much more action than non-millionaires.
If you’re striving to achieve anything then failure is inevitable. Prepare for it. This is especially true when you are trying to achieve something that requires new skills and habits. Mark my words, on the road to success you will fail many times before you ever succeed.
The key to turning failure into success is to change your relationship to failure. Put another way, you must change what you do about failure. It’s best to think of failure as just an opportunity to learn and improve. It’s a teaching moment that should be analyzed with a practical, clear mind.
But people run into trouble when they try to personalize failure, or try to justify it and ignore that they’ve made a mistake. This is the critical difference between the rich and the poor.
I’ve found that there are three ways people respond to failure:
- Get so disappointed by their failure that they just give up. They are embarrassed by their failure and will do anything not to be embarrassed again. They see failure as a massive event, as the final verdict that they are not meant to succeed.
- The second group does not give up that easily. When they encounter failure, they quickly get back on their feet and try again. Will they eventually succeed? The answer is no. Why? Because they don’t change anything. They try again using the same methods and make the same mistakes. Eventually they get frustrated and just give up.
- Millionaires approach and perceive failure very differently. When they don’t reach their goals, millionaires do not see themselves as having failed. Rather, they see themselves as gaining a valuable learning experience. To them, failure is not the end, it’s just a minor setback. They see it as feedback that they are not using the right strategy. They then take this feedback, learn from the experience and change their strategy. By doing this, they turn failures into success.
I know it’s a lot easier, and certainly a lot more fun, to always be right. But mistakes must be embraced as being part of the process of success. If we don’t make mistakes it means that we’re not trying, and if we’re not trying then we’re not learning and getting better.
Also, know this: Your self-worth should not rest on perfectionism, but rather value your ability to accept and learn from your mistakes. Not everyone is willing to admit when they’re wrong, which can hamper progress and relationships.
I can tell you this, very seldom do people achieve their success on the first go. Many achieve their dreams only after countless learning experiences and setbacks. However, many agree that if not for those learning experiences, they would never have found the solutions to unlocking success.
So, knowing that failure is very common among successful people and is often a pre-cursor to success, what should you do? Here are three steps to unleashing the learning power of failure:
- Intentionally increase your failure rate. If it’s true that the more we fail, the more we succeed (and it is), then your immediate goal should be to intentionally increase your failure rate! With this thought in mind, you’re succeeding even when you fail.
- Celebrate your failures, not just your successes. It’s natural to be excited about our successes. Yes, you want to celebrate them. Yes, you want to give yourself a reward or even throw a party. But, if the key to success is to increase our failures, then it only makes sense to celebrate our setbacks as well. When is the last time you rewarded yourself for failing? Probably never! Instead of mentally punishing yourself for not succeeding, buy yourself an ice cream cone and say, “I’m one step closer to success!” Stop letting failure have the negative hold it has on your thoughts and emotions.
- See courage as a “muscle”. If failure is a vehicle that can take you to success, then courage is the fuel. Courage is a muscle. And, like any muscle, you must develop and strengthen it with lots of exercise. As the saying goes: Use it, or lose it. It’s no different with courage. Use and develop your “courage muscle” by looking fear in the eye and taking action anyway. Each time you take action, the courage muscle gets stronger.
“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” -Henry Ford
If you’ve let a failure stop you on your road to success, then my encouragement to you is to get up and try it again. Do it now. Do it better. Do it right and finish what you’ve started.
Don’t let failure get you down and sow doubt in your ability to achieve your goals. You were meant to be great and have all the tools to become so. Keep your head up!
Remember that there were many others like you who were trying and failing but after trying again and again they became successful – those are the people that learned from their failures, changed strategy and soldiered on to the finish.
Be free. Nothing else is worth it.
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P.S.S. What’s this got to do with you? If you don’t take action, absolutely nothing. But remember this – most people fail to achieve what they want in life simply because they never start. If you’re ready to escape the rat race and live life on your terms, don’t wait. Start today.
Ready for more tips on how to achieve the free life? Check-out more articles from the blog archives below: