What comes to mind when you read that word?
The word failure, and the experience of it, had always been negative in my mind.
I hated failing with a passion and would do anything to avoid it.
I was a perfectionist and kept my life and all my risks within a tight little box that felt safe.
One day I realized that I felt extremely stressed a lot of the time.
I put so much pressure on mysef to succeed that I wouldn’t take risks. I played it safe to avoid the pain of failure.
Thank goodness I learned that failing is a part of life and when we fail we can actually grow into someone better than we were before!
The truth is, failing is a part of life and it can be difficult to handle when it happens.
Failure — at least the concept of it — actually lives in our minds. We create a meaning around an experience and we tell ourselves that we failed. Someone else could have the exact same experience and look at it as growth and development.
So did we really fail at something or are we just telling ourselves that?
I’ve stepped out into many things that caused me to feel like a failure and I realized that I had a choice on how I moved forward afterward.
I asked myself: What would it look like to bounce back after taking a risk and not getting exactly what was hoped for?
Do you find yourself shrinking back, feeling fear around taking a risk again OR are you willing to stand in the fire and embrace the unknown for the challenge it presents and the reward it offers?
I’ve experienced both sides — I’ve stood in the fire, strong and willing to grow, and I’ve shrunk back due to fear.
In doing this so many times over the years, I have discovered a few ideas that I believe will help anyone move past failure.
They have helped me move into a place where risk-taking seems like a wonderful option worth embracing again.
Know That This Could Be Your Last Day on Earth
It sounds morbid, and it’s true. We have no idea how much time we have here and we often focus on the past or future instead of the moment we have right now.
Upon failing, we can often look back and think, “Why did I even bother?” We can also let our minds wander to the future and ask, “Will things actually work out for me the way I want them to?”
What has helped me, and may help you, is to remember that this could be your last day on earth. Why worry when it could be your very last day here?
In my experience, living, learning and moving forward are the best paths to follow. Time is wasted worrying about the past or the future when we don’t know how much time we have.
Most of what we stress about will never actually happen so why waste mental energy on things that may never occur?
Live life as if it’s your last day and you will be more at peace….and very likely have no regrets.
“If you live each day as if it were your last, someday you’ll be right. Every morning I looked in the mirror and asked myself: If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I do today?” — Steve Jobs
Gather Information from Overcomers
When we fail, we would serve ourselves well by creating a new mindset that serves us.
We can easily be held back by limiting beliefs about ourselves and our circumstances, which do not help us in moving forward.
What we get to do is reflect on all the people who have overcome far worse than we could ever imagine. Take for instance Viktor Frankl, who survived the Holocaust. He was an overcomer who used his attitude to embrace circumstances that were extremely tough.
When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. — Viktor Frankl
If he can overcome such horrifying circumstances by the power of changing his thinking and attitude, so can we.
There are many more examples of people who have overcome far more than we could ever imagine.
In my experience, reading books about overcomers — people who have come before me and fought the good fight — is integral in pushing me forward when I feel stuck.
Hearing inspiring stories can help us move through things better, knowing that we can overcome as well.
Imaculee Ilibagiza is another example of a person who has chosen to overcome. She writes about her survival of the Rwanda Holocaust in her book “Live To Tell”. It is a powerful story of the forgiveness and overcoming of terrible things that happened to her and her family. She knew that the only way to get through it was to fight to be positive.
I realized that my battle to survive this war would have to be fought inside of me. — Immaculee Ilibagiza
She looked inside herself and chose to rise above. To read her story and see how she overcame gives me hope that I can do the same.
In every story, there’s a lesson to be learned…if we look for it.
The experiences of others have the ability to inspire us to go further than we ever thought we could.
Focus on Quality vs Circumstance
We are faced with circumstances we don’t like on a daily basis. Whether it’s someone driving slowly in front of us when we are in a hurry, a child talking back or a personal rejection, we all have circumstances we would prefer not to have.
So, what do we do when we go out on a limb and circumstances show up for us that we see as unfavorable?
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. — Marcus Aurelius
We can’t control the circumstance, however we can control our thoughts around it.
If we think in a way that serves us, we will create feelings that coincide. In doing this, we can positively shift into a place that moves us into our future both stronger and more experienced.
Choose the quality you want to be (for example grateful, confident or trusting) and focus on that. When you do, the sadness or frustration will fade away. You will not be chained to what happens — you will be free because you chose to step into a specific quality that served you.
Believe There is a Bigger Picture
We can get so stuck in our current dilemma or circumstance that we become very narrow minded and don’t think clearly about how this may fit into the bigger picture.
I believe there is a greater plan at work and that everything happens for a reason.
When something I don’t particulary like is happening in my life, I get an opportunity to learn, grow and stretch through that experience.
Having this attitude has helped me view circumstances in a more positive light.
Some of my biggest failures have led to the greatest gifts I have ever received. This was only available to me because I took a chance and failed forward, seeing the amazing results of getting stronger and more resilient.
If we looked at a picture of our entire life it would be HUGE and we are standing so close to this MASSIVE canvas that we can’t see how everything is working together. We can’t see that where we are now is part of a bigger picture that all fits together like a puzzle.
I work really hard at trying to see the big picture and not getting stuck in ego. I believe we’re all put on this planet for a purpose, and we all have a different purpose…When you connect with that love and compassion, that’s when everything unfolds. — Ellen Degeneres
Focus on your own unique purpose in this life. Choose to let go of ego and know that you can fail forward. Each experience you have is an opportunity to connect yet another dot in the big picture of your life.
Choose to see all experiences as positive and part of something much bigger. In doing this, your picture will become colourful and bright.
Avoid Comparison to Others’ Highlight Reels
When we are down, our default can be to look at everyone else’s perfect lives and think “I’m the only one who’s feeling this way.” The truth is that everyone, and I mean everyone, is struggling with something.
Actually, the bigger the risk you decide to take, the bigger the struggle can be. Large risks can create large problems so be prepared for some adversity.
It’s the nature of stepping out into your greatness — there will often be pushback in some way, whether it comes from others or resides in your own mind.
Resist the urge to look up and think, “Wow they have it all together”. The truth is, they probably don’t. We all have areas in our life that aren’t ideal.
The reason why we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our ‘behind the scenes’ with everyone else’s ‘highlight reel’. — Steven Furtick
If you are alive (which I assume you are ;) you will be tempted to compare. Each person’s journey of growth and development is unique and embracing yours is the only wany to true contentment. Stop comparing and start living the life you were designed to live!
Disappointment in life is inevitable.
Personally, I have found peace and understanding in asking, “What’s the worst that can happen?”
So you failed?
What is the worst thing that came out of it?
Was it really THAT bad?
Whatever the outcome, I believe it will eventually smooth over and work out for the greater good.
We are all over-comers, and having the opportunity to work through adversity strengthens our character.
My encouragement to you, and me, is to keep stepping out into the unknown and it will continue to become easier to move forward.
After so many opportunities to grow, I’ve personally found that things roll off my back much easier than they used to.
Stepping out into risk builds stamina and I know that working out those muscles builds strength and endurance.
Choose to see your ‘failure’ as an opportunity for growth and you will move through life with a more positive mindset and an ongoing willingness to learn and grow.
Take the risk and fail forward!