Leadership guru John Maxwell believes that the difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure. As I strive to improve myself and the results I get in my life, I wanted to share some of my beliefs about failure that I have acquired through both experience and by studying personal development.
These concepts have helped me to improve the way I perceive and respond to failure. This is not an all inclusive list, but these are some of the most important lessons I have learned about the importance of failure in our successes.
- Failure is more common than success. Research shows 70% of the decisions we make and the actions we take turn out to be wrong over the course of time. The people who succeed in the end realize that mistakes and failures a natural part of almost every process and are not paralyzed from making decisions and taking action by the fear of failing.
- Embrace rather than fear failure. One way to speed up the success that you enjoy is to possess an attitude of no fear toward failure. With that attitude, you can attempt more things. If you double the number of things you try, you are going to double the number your failures, but you will also double your successes! Many people in sales set a goal of a certain number of rejections each day because they know that if they meet their quota for rejections, then they are also going to experience their quota of sales wrapped around the failures. The other benefit of framing failure as a positive is that it lessens the fear that leads to procrastination which keeps us from acting.
- We are not defined by our failures. I have never heard of anyone who is successful who has not had to overcome failures and mistakes. Everyone who is successful in any area was once a beginner and made their share of mistakes along the way. I have made the decision that regardless of what others tell me I can’t do, or the failures that I experience, I will always believe in myself. There is a difference between experiencing failure and being a failure. I am not going to sabotage myself by thinking of myself as a failure.
- Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Achieving worthwhile goals (both personal goals and professional goals) depends on taking risks. While I want the risks that I take to be calculated and not reckless, when I push myself past my current ability and comfort zone, I know that some failure and setbacks is inevitable. I don’t want to be someone who is so focused on avoiding failure that I don’t aim for success by taking those calculated risks. I ask myself if the goal is workth the risk, if it is there is no need to worry about failure. I have also come to realize that the world does not reward perfectionism–it rewards getting things done–fear of failure keeps us from taking actions that lead to accomplishment.
- Profit from failure. I have adopted a four step approach to react to my mistakes and failures. 1) Recognize them–no way to profit from a mistake that you are not aware of 2) Admit them–accepting responsibility and not making excuses is essential to profiting from your failures 3) Learn from them–what should I do differently next time? 4) Forget about it–dwelling on a mistake or a failure does not do anything to move my life or career forward. And, I believe that the more you think about a mistake, you are really giving your mind negative mental programming.
- The toughest jobs bring the most satisfaction. The most satisfying victories are the one that are the most difficult. The one that requires you to reach down deep inside, to fight with everything you’ve got, to be willing to leave everything out there —without knowing, until the end if your effort will be enough.
Those are just some of my thoughts on overcoming and profiting from failure. If you think others might enjoy reading this article, please use the social media share buttons on the left side of the screen. If you have any thoughts to add to my list, please leave a comment below.