One of the most common scenarios I encounter on my day to day life online are queries on how to deal with failure.
Personally, I cannot count the number of times I have failed in life. It is surely normal to fail. It is given. But what happens consequent to failing is what matters. In business and professional life alike, one should expect to miss the mark once in a while.
Thomas Edison, America’s leading inventor, is said to have failed more than 9,999 times in his attempt to invent the light bulb. Any other person out there would have given up altogether in the first or second attempt but he chose to push on until finally he made the land mark discovery on how matter can light up when an electric current is passed through it. When asked how he managed to keep up the faith, he said that each time he failed, rather than he gave up, he appreciated that he had learnt one more way NOT to do it! Awesome, isn’t it?
It may seem easier said than done. But the crux of the matter is in how to deal with instances of failure. When failure occurs, what happens? Most of us focus more on the failure to hit the mark more than what is the converse – the learning point. Failure in itself, is a process of learning. Like for Thomas Edison’s case, it shows you one more way not to do it. It is a learning point of sorts.
Well, let us rewind a little. What do you do immediately you fail? There are two choices – either take it positively or negatively. Optimists do not see the end in failing. To them, they take it as a means of attaining their objective. They go back to the drawing board and re-strategize, reworking their procedure to firm up their points of weakness. This is the time they ask themselves why it did not succeed. They don’t pass the buck. They take responsibility. A person bent on success would try to re-engineer his methods to see where they can improve and make the project a success. Would the tweaking involve adopting a new methodology? Maybe change the ingredients? Maybe involve a new approach towards solving the problem? All in all, what matters is adopting an optimistic mindset that no matter what, it just has to work! Mindset is the word.
In contrast, for those who are unsuccessful, as said earlier, failure is an end to itself. They resign themselves to fate and most probably, shift the blame elsewhere. They never take responsibility. To them, failure is given and a normal outcome. And this is where most of us lay. It is said that over 92% of people in the world fail to live up to their dreams due to giving up too early. But then, who said that it is going to be easy? Your guess is as good as mine – no one!
But our biggest folly is being mindful of the views and opinions of the external environment. We pay more attention to the world. We have cultured our minds to trends and systems that exist in the world. To us, life has to be in accordance with what is happening around us. And this is where we get it all wrong.
It is therefore not given that since someone else tried and failed, we too would. The world never works that way. We are all different. We are differently abled. And as such, our uniqueness plays out in the way we execute tasks. This therefore means that we cannot be all equal. All of us cannot have a similar outcome when we execute tasks or a project. It therefore calls for a sober approach to every project we undertake to accomplish.
What are your gifts, for instance? What can you do best? How else can you utilize these special abilities to accomplish whatever you desire? That is the power of creativity that every person is blessed with. Apply these to such situations.
It is therefore incumbent upon each of us to employ these skills that we are endowed with to accomplish whatever tasks lay before us, dealing with situations of failure included. Trust me, we are all equally ably skilled to sort out any limitation that is before us!
So, does failure in life qualify to be a blessing or a curse? I am an optimist- I take them as opportunities to learn, advance and empower myself. I was once paralyzed two years ago and I could not use half of my body from the chest down for a month and a half. This presented me with the opportunity to re-examine my life and do a self-discovery of my real life purpose. From my sickbed, I vowed that if at all I would survive (from my doctor had told me all patients he had attended to with multiple myeloma had either been terminally paralyzed or passed on before me), I would pursue my life purpose with no abandon. And that gave me renewed emotional energy to heal. Indeed, one and a half months after discharge, I started feeling my legs and my miraculous healing came through.
In business too, I have failed multiple times. But each event of failure has been a learning point of sorts. I have divested from ideas, I have re-strategized and re-set plans. I cannot yet declare am perfect but every time I come out of the experience as a stronger, more refined entrepreneur.
So let us purpose to change our mindsets and take failure positively. In the entire history of the world, there is no single person who made it in life without failing. Failure is given. Your attitude at the end of the day is what will determine whether you would transform the failure to success or terminate as a failure. Use this principle to make success your signature using this mindset.
The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How To maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. Both books are available on Amazon. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Coach with PBL Africa. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:
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