Have you ever failed in your life or career? Many times? And still managed to pick up the pieces and keep marching forward?
Well, if you answered yes to these questions, then you are one of the very few people who know how to deal with failure and use it to their advantage. Contrary to conventional wisdom, professionals do not often fail because they are not well-trained or because they lack skills. It is often the case that people and organizations fail because they lack the discipline to stand up and try again after experiencing failures.
Most people are trained (in school) to study and as a result get an “A” at the end of the school year. This is how most people are trained, and no one likes failure. In fact, failure itself is extremely stigmatized in many corporate cultures. However, this pattern of a predictable reward system does not exist in the real world. It comes as no surprise then to see many people discouraged when faced with failure even after trying so hard. As a matter of fact, it is counter-intuitive and very confusing to a lot of people who were taught otherwise. This is why after many failed attempts, most people usually get disincentivized and disengaged and eventually give up on their ideas, projects, or even careers. This is the way many good organizations have failed and disappeared.
However, a few others (like yourself) use their failure as an advantage by turning it into an opportunity to learn and grow. But most importantly, keep their sight on their target while managing to put one foot in front of the other inching closer and closer towards that finish line. This is the difference between people with “growth mindsets” who view failure as an opportunity to learn and grow and those with “fixed mindsets” who view failure as a reflection of their own ability (or lack thereof) to get things done.
This is a key distinction and it is how great organizations maintain their competitive advantage and how successful people get things accomplished with seemingly flawless outcomes. It is the ability to say yes to failure and learn from it. I am not suggesting that we should embrace failure here. I am rather suggesting that your greatness cannot be realized if you are timid or afraid of failing over and over again in the process. People who are afraid of failure tend to gravitate towards their comfort zone by taking the “easy shot” because of the appeal of its predictability and the assurance that they will succeed. In the process of doing so, they miss out on achieving their real potential and greatness in life and career. Greatness can never be achieved within your comfort zone. People who are able to overcome their fear of failure and push the limit of what’s possible are the ones capable of realizing their potential and making great things happen. This is easier said than done however! It takes discipline, dedication, and practice.
Real innovation and transformation do not simply come as a result of a “one and done” effort followed by somehow predictable success. This is not how things work in real life. There are risks and uncertainty … and many adaptive problems that cannot be simply solved with applying technical or predictable solutions. You will inevitably fail in what you are doing (if you try hard enough). And that’s OK. Being relentless in chasing your goals is a key quality you should embrace in your quest for greatness. Successful people do not just succeeded overnight. It is the culmination of hard work, dedication and passion for their cause … and most importantly persistence after many failed attempts at reaching their goals. It is precisely their maniacal focus on their finish line and ability to cast aside their fear of failure that make them great in whatever they do.
Do not allow failure to define what you can and cannot do or demarcate the end of your career. Make it the beginning of a great one!
Stay focused, learn, and keep moving forward!