How To Deal With Failure

6 Ways To Bounce Back From Failure

C. Pratt

6 Ways To Bounce Back From Failure

The fear of failure is one of those situations that can cause terror in even the most confident people out there. No one likes to fail and it can feel absolutely devastating anytime it happens.

But, the truth is that if you're living your life at all, you're going to encounter failure at some point along the way. So, let's look at 6 ways you can bounce back from failure so that when it happens, it doesn't stop you, you simply deal with it and get moving again towards your success.

1. Define Failure

YouTube started out as a dating site and it failed at that. Can you even imagine now there not being a YouTube?

What does ‘failure’ mean to you? This is an important one to figure out as it's your beliefs around failure that will determine how you react when it happens.

Your fear of failure may have started back when you were in school. Back then, when you didn't have the understanding you do now, you might have told yourself "Only the dumb kids fail at school" and felt that  no one wants to hang around with the kid who gets F's and no one wants to have to deal with the lack of respect from your parents when you bring home an unacceptable report card. It can also feel like society looks down on those who fail. You'll see it on tv and in movies and you'll also hear slogans like "Failure is not an option" and "Second place is for losers". So, it's no wonder that people fear failing.

So, take a moment and think about whether any of these thoughts have crept into your belief system and define what failure means to you. Does it mean that your friends and family lose their respect for you? That you’re a loser and worthless in the eyes of everyone else?

If this is what you consider failure meaning then it's time to change your belief and update your definition about what failure means. Change your belief to be one of learning from what happened and then using that knowledge to launch yourself closer to your success. See failure as sometimes being a necessary evil on the path towards success.

The only way you become good at something is by correcting your mistakes and becoming more proficient at it. Think of someone who plays a musical instrument. They had to start with learning the most basic of musical notes, making mistakes when they played those notes, adjusting their movements to play the note correctly, and they built up their skills from that. It took a lot of practice but they finally achieved their goal of being a successful musician but they couldn't have done it if they hadn't simply corrected their mistakes as they learned to play the instrument.

Did you know that entrepreneurs tend to fail 3.8 times before they hit on a successful business? Henry Ford is a perfect example in that he had three business fail before he started the Ford Motor Company.

The truth about success is that it's only gained through experience which means going through a process of trial and error.

The more you fail, the more you learn what needs to be done in order to achieve success.

2. Learn Positive Reframing

Positive reframing means that instead of focusing on what failed, focus on what went right. Take a step back and look at the situation from a different perspective. Some things you could do are:

- focus on what needs to be changed so it does work
- figure out what resources you could use to make it work
- use what you've learned to encourage yourself to work wiser and harder
- think of it like Edison did when he invented the lightbulb in that you've now discovered one more way that doesn't work so now you're closer to figuring out the real solution

Basically, learn to look for the good that happened. Find those silver linings in every bad situation.

See also, "The Game of Opposites - How To Deal With Frustration"

Whenever you’re trying to do something new in the world, if you’re trying to create any kind of meaningful change, especially change that will help the world, you have to expect resistance. Resistance comes in the form of ridicule. It comes in the form of rejection. It comes in the form of self-doubt. It’s your job to keep going.” Danae Ringelmann, Chief Development Officer and founder of Indiegogo.

3. Be Accepting

When failure happens, and it will, first, accept that failures happen to everyone, not just you. It's not personal against you because everyone has to deal with failures at various times. It doesn't mean you're a failure, it means that something you tried didn't work. There's a difference.

Next accept that you made a mistake or misjudged a situation. It’s not about blaming someone else or something. It's about learning how you can improve yourself. Perhaps you need to admit that you need more knowledge or training in this area. If so, that’s definitely something you can do. Or maybe you took on too much. You’ve now learned your limitations or that you need to enlist help. You've learned some valuable lessons with this experience so be sure to use that knowledge in a way that will allow you to move forwards even smarter than before.

Also, accept the fact that the first time you encounter a situation or try something new, you're not going to know the best ways to do it. You'll do the best you can with the knowledge you have at the time but it may not be enough and you may fail. That's okay. It means you'll know much more for the next time you're in a similar situation.

One other thing that's important to do is to allow yourself to feel the emotions attached to your disappointment for a set amount of time.  You need to allow yourself to feel the emotions of grief, sadness, disappointment, frustration, and disillusionment. Failing at something you had high hopes for is painful. It's okay to feel upset about it. Allow yourself to feel all those emotions, which are wrapped up with feeling like you failed, fully and completely. But also make the decision that you will only allow yourself to feel these emotions for a certain amount of time, maybe for the next 24 hours. After that then you tell yourself, "Enough. Time to get going again." The next step is to take a step back and refocus on the big picture. What is your ultimate goal? Maybe this failure was really a distraction from what you really wanted. Is this just a minor setback? if you deal with the immediate problems can you get your project back on track? How do you start again to go after your goal? Start thinking about how to move forwards again.

4. Develop a Sense of Humour

James Dyson created 5,126 prototypes of his vacuum cleaner before he hit on the one that would lead him to success. 5,126 times! Bet he thought that "sucked". 

Have a sense of humour about it if you can. Not always easy but it helps tremendously if you can find the humour in the situation. This failure is just temporary. You will bounce back.

5. Understand That Failure Doesn't Define You

You are not your failures. What defines you is how you react to that failure. Do you learn from it and keep going or do you let it crush you forever?

The worst you can do is let a failure start to creep in as doubt about yourself and make you gun-shy about trying anything else in the future.

And, the absolute worst thing you can do is declare defeat before you even start by thinking something like, "That'll never work" or "I don't want to risk looking dumb in front of my friends." 

Remind yourself that some of the most successful people in the world have failed numerous times. To read about some people who didn't achieve success on their first attempts,  see "Inspiring Stories".

6. Change The Word

Failure is just a word. Choose a different word.

Failure is just a word you attach to a situation. Change the word to be "learning experience" or "stepping stone" or "feedback" or how about "Testing Stage 1". Change the word and you'll change your perspective. It's no longer a failure, it's simply a situation that needs some modifications.

I'll leave you with two excellent quotes about failure:

"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." J. K. Rowling

"Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something." Morihei Ueshiba

<-- Confidence Thinking

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