Failure gets a bad rap. We fight very hard each and every day to avoid failure as much a possible and often times, we only succeed in failing. Which then makes us desperate and we wind up making even worse choices.
It’s a simple fact of life – it’s not IF you are going to fail, it is WHEN. But failure does not always mean that you are finished. Failure can often be a sign that what you are currently doing just isn’t working, and you need to try something else to succeed. C.S. Lewis said, “Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” Failure doesn’t mean we are wrong, but it is a sign that what we are doing isn’t correct at that moment. Failure gives us a chance to start over and try something new.
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In life, the only true failure comes when we quit. The old axiom “Winners never quit and quitters never win” is quite true. Michael Jordan, arguably one of the greatest basketball players was a tremendous failure. Jordan himself said, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
If Michael Jordan be admit to failing, we should not be embarrassed or even discouraged when we fail. So we are bound to fail at something, and the true testament to our character is how we choose to handle failure when it comes. [Tweet “The true testament to our character is how we choose to handle failure when it comes.”]
Success comes with persistence and tenacity – once we have a goal or achievement in mind, we must never waiver from it until we find the accomplishment we desire. If we go one way and fail, we need to set a slightly different course and proceed. We mail fail at something a thousand times, but ultimately, we will succeed.
Devery Youngblood in his amazing book, Successful Failure, says that “Our biggest failures in life – though painful and something we would never want to repeat – often end up being the best things that ever happened to us.” Youngblood reminds us that the learning process is helped by failure and that we learn more from failure that we often do by our successes. We learn new ways to overcome obstacles and challenges, we also learn that our greatest asset is not money, time, or resources, it is our minds and our willingness to never give up even in the light of abject failure.
I know from my own experience that in the midst of failing, I was desperate and wanted someone to come rescue me. But more often that not, I was never rescued and had to figure it out myself. The times when I eventually solved my challenge I hold as great achievements, but it the failures where I quit that I also hold as some of my great defeats. It is these times when the “Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda” excuses come. Not very good leadership at all.
What Do You Do When You Fail?
I have often found that the advice in the Nat King Cole song Pick Yourself Up works best for me…
Pick yourself up
Take a deep breath
Dust yourself off
And start all over again
Odds are that you will experience failure in your life…and if you are anything like me, you will experience it a lot. And that is not necessarily a bad thing. It means you are trying. It means you are seeking advancement, achievement, and success.
Failure will come. But when you quit, failure then becomes defeat. Nobody likes to loose so keep trying. Put one foot in front of the other and keep walking your way towards your goal. It will become a reality for you…but you have to be persistent.
So embrace the failures in your life – it means you have an incredible opportunity to try a different approach, try something new, innovate, create, develop a new strategy. And who knows? Maybe eventually, you will succeed…
How do you handle failure?