When did you face such a colossal failure in your personal or professional life that you knew it was time to throw in the towel? Did you rebound from that event? Are you still living in the shadow of that failure? Have you stood up to that failure, learned from it, and overcome?
When my oldest son earned his driving permit, I was excited to take him down the road and teach him how to drive. He did great in the parking lots, impressive on the highway, and looked like a natural going through the neighborhood. When he pulled into the driveway, though, things didn’t go so well. I won’t embarrass him by sharing too many details, but we got a new fence out of the deal.
As you can imagine, he was petrified to get behind the wheel after that. That same day, my wife made him back the truck out of the driveway so we could repair the fence just to make sure he did drive again. It took weeks of offering him opportunities to drive before he would, and when he did, he was so scared, we could barely get over idle speed on the road. It took some time, but eventually he learned to enjoy driving again.
Overcoming failure is something we must all do in our lives. Sometimes we will fail to learn a new skill, perform up to par in our careers, or maintain relationships at home. Our failures will cause us to doubt our abilities and hold us back from pushing forward, but there are a few ways we can overcome failure and turn it into success:
- Accept that failure is always an option. I’m not saying you should look for the opportunity to fail and pursue it as a goal. No, I mean that we must accept that failing is always a possibility. According to a post on the University of Kentucky’s website, Thomas Edison failed 1,000 times trying to invent the lightbulb. When a reporter asked how it felt to fail so many times, he responded that they weren’t failures, the lightbulb was just a process of 1,000 steps.
- Mourn your failure. It is appropriate to mourn your failure. Take some time to be upset about it. Deal with the consequences of your failure and then finalize your grief. The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Anger and depression seem to be the areas where the most people get trapped. Move through the stages and move on with your life.
- Embrace failure as a learning opportunity. Edison learned something new with every failure of the lightbulb. Each time his invention failed, he modified and improved it for better results. His failures were opportunities for him to learn what was wrong and fix it; so are yours.
- Don’t let failures ruin relationships. When my son hit the fence, I could have reacted in many ways. I knew, even in the excitement of the moment, that my reaction would be pivotal to him and affect his ability to learn from his failure. I acted intentionally in a way to maintain our relationship.
Failure is not comfortable. Like growing pains, however, they are necessary. Don’t let failure hold you back. Maybe failure is just a lesson to try something different.
Question: What have you done to overcome failure in your life? How has failure turned into success? You can leave a comment by clicking here.