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How to Successfully Fail

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Will Durant

Successfully failing is an expression that sounds oxymoronic in a world where success and failure are doomed to be the opposite.  But is that the right way to look at success and failure?

Success and Failure

Failure seems to lurk everywhere, so much so we perpetually worry about it.  We worry whether we will get accepted into a certain college, get the right job, meet the right spouse, and save enough for retirement.  It seems failure is what we are fighting, as opposed to success is what we are striving.

A better perception of the relationship of success and failure is to not see them as opposites where you have to fight one and work for the other.

Instead, we need to think of failure as the point in our career journey where all the fun is about to start, but only if you are willing to let it.  Failure is the beginning and is the secret to big achievements.  Success relies on simply knowing how to move beyond failure.

Success and failure are part of the same experience.

Keys to Failure

Here are seven keys to seeing failure as the first step to success.

  1. See failure as temporary and make it temporary.  You’re not permanently stuck in failure unless you decide so.  It is your actions towards changing the status quo that will lead you to success.

Know when to readapt your strategies and when you need to change direction.

  1. Take the blame and learn from it.  Stop finding excuses and stop relating what’s happening to you to external circumstances.

This mindset has never led to a better situation and will just keep you on a vicious circle of negativism. Understand and acknowledge your errors in any situation and learn from them.

  1. Set realistic expectations and take actions towards them.  Never overpromise. Understand what you can really achieve and stick to it.
  2. Focus on your strengths and use them.  Stop wasting your energy on trying to fix things that won’t help you achieve your goal.  Allocate more time to perfecting your strengths than on working on your weaknesses.
  3. Get out of your comfort zone and be creative.  Failing in something means that you tried hard enough to find that it doesn’t work. You’re courageous, be proud of that.

Keep in mind that you learn more from failures than you do from success. If “bad” things happen, always remember that you did not fail, you just found a way that doesn’t work.

  1. Persevere and be consistent in your work towards your goal.  Persistence in the face of failure is very often rewarded with success. Never forget that you are not what happens to you, but rather how you deal with what happens to you is what makes you.
  2. You are not the only one.  Many successful inventors, entrepreneurs, and politicians have been in your situation, and many of them believe their successive failures led to their ultimate success.   It strengthened them, made them more creative, more mature and helped them in finding the real path to follow.

The Bible

The beauty of the Bible is that it is about real people who suffered and failed just like we do today.  None of these characters were perfect, yet they all made great contributions to teaching us how to live today.

Peter was one such man.  He was loud and impetuous. He was always the biggest personality in any group.  He was the only disciple who took up Jesus’s offer to walk on water, and he ended up getting wet.

Despite Jesus predicting that Peter would deny Him, Peter boldly claimed that would never happen.  Scarcely hours later, Peter was accused of being a follower of Jesus and Peter not only denied he knew Jesus, but he did it three times.  He was a complete failure and fraud.

Yet, Peter was the first disciple whom Jesus appeared to after His resurrection.  Jesus mentored him along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, and Peter became the rock of the Christian church.  He ultimately penned two of the books of the Bible (1 Peter and 2 Peter).

If Peter can overcome failure, we all can.  Just like Peter, when we encounter failure, we need to learn, listen and be humble.  And trust that success is still in our future.