Is there anyone on the face of the planet who hasn’t tasted failure in his life? Do you know anyone on God’s green Earth who had had an Aladdin’s Lamp that would magically fulfill all the wishes of the master without having to break a sweat? Can there ever be a conscious being who wouldn’t have to face failure in his life?
Yeah, that’s right. Failures are inherently such an ingrained and well-established part of our lives that one can’t really cut them loose for good. What one can do is get better at overcoming failures.
So often, whenever failure strikes, we panic and turn the world upside down, not having the faintest idea of what to do next, or how to come out of it, or even why to bother trying to get up again and move forward. I empathize with ‘failure’ as it has received more backlash than it actually deserves and I am here to finally root for failure.
Failures are Your BFFs
Probably the best way to overcome failures is by making them your BFFs. Come to think of it, they actually already are our best friends in disguise. They are completely impartial, unprejudiced, and totally rational, and only an insane person would deny such a company.
It’s pretty interesting. Everyone is lucky enough to enjoy the privilege of being in the company of failures. But there’s one thing that differentiates successful people from unsuccessful ones. The former category comes to terms with the fact that failures truly are their BFFs, while the latter is pretty immature and short-sighted, owing to which they never really acknowledge the pot of gold they had all this time.
And because they never really appreciated the profound gesture presented by Mr. Failure, they have to pay. So the lesson is simple. You don’t snub someone who’s trying to improve your life situation by pointing out the loopholes in your execution, the enhancements you can make, the weaknesses you have to pay attention to, the mistakes you need to stop making, the strategies you need to change, the approaches you need to reform, and the mindset you need to upgrade.
Do I even need to remind you that you have to be grateful for your BFF?
Fear of Failure isn’t exactly Injurious
You must have done some actions in the past because you were too scared to fail. And now in hindsight, you might very well be grateful that you had this fear of failure which ultimately acted as an inspiration to do whatever it took to ensure that you land on the soft spot.
An employee will work harder if he has the fear of getting fired, an entrepreneur will put in more time and energy if he fears his ideas not turning into a reality, a student will study more dedicatedly because he doesn’t wanna come last in the exams.
So, in moderation, even fear of failure can act as a pretty strong support system. But don’t let it escalate to such a point that it instead stops you from taking action in the first place, throwing you off into the analysis paralysis loop.
Not having this fear of failure can make things awry for you pretty instantly. It can make you lazy, egoist, and can instill you with a false sense of greatness. Fear of failure keeps us grounded and humbled.
The No BS Way of Overcoming Failures
I am not gonna sugarcoat things to present a pretty picture in front of you and tell you that everything’s gonna be alright on its own. No, that’s simply not how things work. You have to make it alright.
If failures are coming your way, as they should, then first of all, it means that you are at least trying something as opposed to those who simply have stopped living and are content with where they are and what they have.
But that’s not enough. Failure simply is trying to show you that something’s off, which is why you are not getting the results you desire.
Overcoming failure simply means assessing the situation instead of denying it, recapping what you did, analyzing how you did it, brainstorming what you could do differently, and getting right to it without wasting another second hoping for some easy way out.
A failure is simply an event that will come and go, and how repetitive you wanna make it is up to you.
Failure is a Double-Edged Sword
I suppose even you guys must have sensed it by now. On one hand, I am making failure your best friend who you should be thankful for, and on the other hand, I am talking about overcoming failures. I know, it’s ironic.
Here’s the thing. Nobody actually loves failing. It’s hard to see something you build with your blood, sweat, and tears not working the way you want it to. It takes balls to see your efforts of day and night going down the gutter for nothing. It takes courage to witness your work which was basically an extension of yours going up its belly.
That’s the not-so-pleasant truth of the day. Failure is kind of like the festival that everybody dreads but is what makes all the other festivals so damn enjoyable.
The failure with their first 3 rockets is what made Spacex reach where it is today, the first 1000 failed experiments are what made us remember Edison, the numerous failed shots by Michael Jordan is what made him so damn successful, and probably just an infinite more example of how people bounced back from their failures.
Like I said in the beginning, failures are your BFFs. They pinpoint what’s lacking, help you discover your flaws, showcase your weaknesses, and zoom into your shortcomings. And once you are made aware of all those things, well, you can get down to correcting them as soon as possible. That’d surely be helpful, isn’t it? But the problem is our own bloated ego which doesn’t wanna be told if it did something wrong.
Failures help you streamline the whole process and accelerate your growth, but maybe Mr. Failure is just a sadistic chap who likes to see the very people he’s helping have a hard time gaining all the insights and understanding the meaning. I don’t know, it’s kinda complicated. But try to be patient and think it through calmly, you might understand the essence of what I am trying to convey.
Anyway, I am here to help you transition through the phase of pain so that you can directly jump to the goodies offered by failure.
Overcoming Failure #1: Acceptance
It’s no surprise that nobody adores failure. Be it Elon Musk or you and me, we aren’t gonna be on cloud seven whenever failure strikes. And it hurts all the more when people around us, even the people closest to us, are there to remind us of how we screwed up.
We already know deep down that we took a decision and acted upon it and it didn’t exactly take off like we thought it would, and now the entire world is ready to shoot us with ridicule, cheap sarcasm, and unhealthy criticism.
And the primary reason that the outer attacks hurt more is that we never really accepted the fact that we failed. Trying to deny something that happened simply aggravates the situation.
Denying that you are fat when you are fat will only make you crazier when you look at yourself in the mirror, denying the negative emotions that you are experiencing will only make you more irritated, and denying that you have failed will only drive you more nuts when someone rubs it in your face.
Accepting failure is all right. Feeling bad for a while about the fact that you failed is all right. Crying to express your sorrow because you failed is again all right. What’s not right is you feeling all of that but still refusing to accept it either because of your own monumental expectations or because you are just too embarrassed and chickenshit to accept that even you can lose.
Overcoming Failures #2: Stop Giving Excuses
We always want to keep our smug facade in front of the people around us, pretending that we are absolutely unbeatable when on the inside we know we aren’t. The never-ending list of excuses that we make to others and even to ourselves justifying our current scenario is simply making things worse.
“I couldn’t do so and so thing because of friends, family, society, peer pressure, neighbors, situation, circumstances, God, fate, destiny,” and whatnot! You have to get it through your head: blaming, accusing, criticizing, or condemning others for your own screw-ups isn’t gonna take you anywhere.
Instead of accepting failures and learning from them, you are trying to become complacent with the situation and keeping your rather exaggerated ego intact.
You are steering away from “What went wrong and could be improved” to “everything was perfectly fine and needs no modification”. And that may be a comforting and soothing position to be in, but you are never gonna grow and evolve if you stay there forever.
The more you run away from your misfirings, the harder it will get to overcome your failures in the first place. You will remain frustrated, irritated, paranoid, and a couple of other not so dear emotions until you face and accept your failures.
All of this will lead to a more restless and unpeaceful mind, which will, in turn, ensure more catastrophe in your life. Your mind will keep on generating endless ripples inside you until and unless you are completely accepting reality as it is.
Overcome Failure #3: Learn from your Failures
Once you face your failures wholeheartedly and accept them totally, the next step to overcome failures is learning from them.
This is the only way to make your mind calm and composed, by going to the root cause of what led to the failure in the first place. Understanding failure itself without including your own self in the equation is the real challenge here. You have to take the failure seriously, just not personally.
Look at your fiascos like a scientist does, absolutely unbiasedly and impartially. You have to detach yourself from the failure and look at it from a third man’s perspective. Only then can any meaningful result come out of the whole experiment.
If you are just pretending to learn from your failures for namesake then you better not do it at all, you will save a lot more time that way. Don’t waste your time associating yourself with your failure. A failure is just an event. You are not your failures. Just because you failed at some particular work, doesn’t mean you failed in life. The difference is profound.
Overcome Failure #4: Grow out of your Failures
If you have genuinely followed all the steps—faced the situation, accepted the failure, and learned from it—then you have already grown from it. It simply implies that the purpose of the task you failed at has been fulfilled if you have genuinely gone through all the stages.
The world isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, it’s gonna punch you in the gut even after you have tapped out. And the sole explanation of such scenarios can be given by citing the fact that these circumstances are actually what assist us grow to become better, smarter, stronger, faster, wiser, and more intelligent than before.
If you are able to give them what they want from you, which is actually seeing you thrive, then you are gonna be fine. Else, they are not gonna stop coming until your thick head gets it through.
And come to think of it, failures are actually helping us achieve our highest goals in disguise.
See, if your end goal is to simply get x,y,z things in life then you might procure them after a certain time period, but you can only relish it for so long. You will get used to it and bored of it and will ultimately start pursuing another ‘something’ and the cycle will repeat itself over and over again.
But if you see it through that life isn’t just about collecting or running after things(name, fame, money, respect, etc) but more about what you are becoming from the inside, then that will give an entirely new direction to the way you live your life.
Inner Growth Should be the Aim
Now, you won’t be that concerned with what you procured or what you lost, you will be much more interested in seeing what you have become from the inside.
Winning and losing are temporary, success and failure are also temporary, but what you become from the inside because of those events is of more paramount importance.
Just imagine if a particular failure eliminated the fear of failure from you entirely, then ain’t that just mind-boggling? That one grand failure would be worth more than a thousand mediocre successes that only resulted in inflating your already pumped up ego. Now, the normal and everyday fears that bug up the majority of the population wouldn’t be able to so much as touch you let alone intimidate you.
If you genuinely learn and grow out of your failures, then you are becoming a better version of yourselves. If you were v1.0 before your last debacle, then now you will be upgraded to v2.0 provided that you followed the phases I elaborated on.
The person who’s stuck at a particular version for all his life is living a dead life. So, you have to choose, would you rather be v1.0 and play it safe all your life, or do you wanna keep on upgrading your version and take it as high as humanly possible?
Goal VS Purpose
The majority of times, we look at things in such a confined and limited manner that it makes me puke all over my keyboards.
We basically live a purposeless life, only setting a couple of goals and if we achieve them then we stop growing and call ourselves ‘successful’, and if we fail to achieve them we don’t stop crying about it and call ourselves ‘failures’. That’s how most of us live our lives.
The better way is to have a purpose first—that’s beyond your own life, beyond winnings and losings—and then do the rest. Set goals, give it your best shot, but now you won’t get attached to the results because your purpose doesn’t linger upon your outcomes. It essentially means that whether you failed or succeeded in your goals isn’t of that much consequence as what you become out of it.
That to me sounds like a more profitable proposition. Think of it, the best way to overcome a failure is to simply change your definition of failure itself.
If your motive is to become better than you were before, then success and failure are both actually contributing to your purpose. Truly, learning knows no bounds, it never really stops.
Having said that, I don’t mean to imply that you undermine your goals, or don’t give your 100% towards your goals, or stop setting goals in their entirety. You should be doing all of that in the best possible manner.
I was barely trying to exacerbate the distinguishing features between having solely a goal and a purpose along with your goal. Whether you achieve your goals or not, whether things go according to the plan or not, whether you succeed or not, the purpose should always be to keep moving forward and keep growing to become a better variant of yourself.
When you can see things like this, success and failure will both hold equal importance and you will stop caring about either of them. You neither would be too attached to success and nor would you be paranoid of failures.
At the end of the day, your purpose is to grow out of both of them and achieve the version you didn’t think you could become. Surprise yourself, and life will surprise you.
Your Reaction to your Failures will decide how your life is gonna shape up.