Embracing Failure

“Failure is not the opposite of success; it’s part of success.” – Arianna Huffington

Just hearing the word “fail” can be triggering. It sounds so final and for many of us, brings back a wave of emotion to times when we felt defeated.

But what if I told you that in order to succeed and step into the life you want to lead, you have to fail, often?

Failure doesn’t have to mean bad or good, it can just mean progress. And something that you consider a failure today, may become a celebrated milestone when looking back.

When you think of these well-known individuals in the world, would you consider them failures?

  • Vincent Van Gogh
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Sir James Dyson
  • Lady Gaga

Probably not, but they all failed before succeeding.

  • Vincent Van Gogh sold only one painting in his life and the sale was just months before his death.
  • Oprah Winfrey was publicly fired from her first job as a TV news anchor.
  • Sir James Dyson had 5,126 failed prototypes before creating the bagless vacuum cleaner.
  • Lady Gaga was dropped by her first record label.

So instead of letting failure define you, embrace it. I know that’s easier said than done, so here are 4 steps to help you through it.

  1. Acknowledge – Face your failure and what transpired. Don’t pretend that it didn’t happen or try to avoid it. Accept it.
  2. Learn – Once you can acknowledge your failure, try to identify lessons. What can you take away from this experience? What could you have done differently?
  3. Speak – Be open about your failure, not just for yourself, but for others. Take ownership and be proud of your attempt. It will be therapeutic to discuss and will likely inspire others to share their own failures.
  4. Proceed – Decide what is next. Do you want to move forward with this dream or goal? Do you want to walk away or change course? Determine how you want to carry on.

Failing will never be easy, but accepting the experience will allow you to work through it. As J.K. Rowling said, “It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.”

Failing is a part of life. Letting go of the stigma of not succeeding will allow you to take control of the situation and demystify the fear around it.

Here are resources we found helpful on the topic: