This post is by Bernd Geropp.
On several occasions in my life I have failed miserably.
My most embarrassing situation: I failed passing the driver’s ed test.
At the age of 17 this is a catastrophe. As a youngster you think getting the driver license is synonymous with becoming an adult. I felt miserable falling short. It gave me a huge blow to my sense of self-worth.
Most people perceive failures as moments of great powerlessness. After a defeat, most of us will have trouble to keep going with enthusiasm and energy.
Winston Churchill once said:
“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”
Well spoken – but hard to do.
Here are some important tips of how to successfully deal with failure:
1. Make room for feelings
If something really went to pot, it is entirely normal for you to feel rage, disappointment and sadness shortly afterward. We all have to process this in our own way. If you feel like doing so, go ahead and give your frustrations free reign – but this is best done behind closed doors.
Others may need time to themselves, or may feel the need to blow off steam by exercising. You need to take this time. Never let your emotions show in a business environment. If you are heavily affected by a failure, withdraw, and, if need be, allow your emotions free reign – but only in private.
2. Focus on the failure, not the person
Anyone can fail, but they should not be labeled as a loser.
Differentiate between your actions and your persona. The internal human values do not change with failure!
3. Identify the worst possible outcome
If you are afraid of the impact of failure, draw up a picture of the various bad things that can happen.
You should also think through completely exaggerated scenarios. You will notice that this actually has a calming effect. You will realize that none of these things will actually kill you.
“In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.”
- Bill Cosby
4. Allow yourself to fail
Anyone who wants to succeed must accept failure.
The desire to avoid failure at all costs will most certainly end in failure!
5. Do not fret over your failure
Accept the defeat. If the original objective cannot be met, then let it go.
“Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure.”
- George Edward Woodberry
6. Anything meaningful carries risk
Anyone who fails has first taken a risk. Anything worth doing is accompanied by the risk of failure.
Successful people are not successful because they suffer fewer defeats than less successful people. They experience more failures – but they will not submit and keep picking themselves back up.
“Don’t be afraid of missing opportunities. Behind every failure is an opportunity somebody wishes they had missed.”
- Lily Tomlin
7. Avoid excuses and assigning blame
Don’t look for excuses and don’t look for blame with others. Passing blame will not help you. By doing so, you only end up handing control over to others, and you will be unable to recognize mistakes that you can learn from.
8. What can I learn from this?
Ask yourself: Why did I fail? What should I have done differently to avoid this? What will I do differently next time?
“Failure happens all the time. It happens every day in practice. What makes you better is how you react to it.”
- Mia Hamm
9. Create some leeway for action
Figure out what options you have in spite of a defeat. Look into the future and set new objectives!
“We learn wisdom from failure much more than success. We often discover what we will do, by finding out what we will not do.”
- Samuel Smiles
10. What positive could come of this?
There is little point in asking this question immediately after a failure. You are still dealing with disappointment, anger and sorrow. But this question can be very useful after some time has passed.
Try to find out what positive could come from your failure. I promise you this much: You will be amazed by what you come up with.
How do you deal with failure? What have you learned from your defeats?