Overcome Failure: Things You Need to Remember
To overcome failure is to accept that life is not always about winning. Failure takes away happiness and confidence. That is why everyone fears failure. But at some point in our lives, we encounter it. Especially when doing something new that pushes us to our limits.
Let’s be honest, failing sucks. What hurts more is when you fail on something that you are passionate about, or something from which you are expecting a lot — like an entrepreneurial journey, an interview for your dream job, a sports competition, or learning something new.
Failure is part of growing up especially when you try to expand your horizon. In fact, it is a testament that you’re bold enough to go through the path of uncertainty, and you willingly took the risk without the assurance of success.
Most of all, it’s an eye-opener, it makes you realize the things that went wrong, or the things that you did wrong.
Trying to overcome failure and dealing with its consequences must be a conscious effort. The noise inside your head telling you that you’re a loser, the regrets about things that you should’ve done, the feeling of embarrassment that you were not able to make something work, and the unsolicited opinions of other people telling you that “you should’ve done this instead…”, as if they really knew what happened, makes it more unbearable to remain sane after enduring a difficult journey.
But you know what? I’ve got some ideas for you (that I personally thought of, and did, when I was dealing with failure) to help you stay on the positive side of things, and little-by-little, get yourself out of this stressful situation.
Part I: Questions to Ask Yourself to Overcome Failure
1. Did you do your best?
There are several reasons why people fail. Some of them are attributable to them being unable to exert the necessary effort or pay attention to details that could have helped them succeed. Others fail because of laziness, or non-performance of responsibilities.
I am a huge advocate of honest self-assessment. After failing, the best thing to do is to take note of the actions that you’ve done, and the actions that you haven’t. Be honest with yourself because this is very crucial for you to identify what really went wrong.
If you are fully convinced that you did your best, and performed all necessary actions to the best of your abilities, and you performed your responsibilities with diligence, then it would be safe to say that it was a failure with honor. Because you can tell yourself that you never gave up until the last moment.
2. Did you learn something from your experience?
Here comes the playfulness of this thing we call life. Sometimes, no matter how hard you work, and no matter how much passion and commitment you pour into something, there is still a possibility to fail — it’s called RISK.
When you take the leap, and accept the accompanying risks, lots of priceless lessons come with it. So even if you failed, your sacrifices and the time you spent weren’t wasted because you learned something from the path you took. For me, that’s what’s important on every journey — the wisdom.
3. Did you do a fair fight?
For many people, success is the ultimate motivation. It is the thing that keeps them going. But unfortunately, some people are so fixated on the idea of succeeding that they are willing to take any method just to get there. Even unfair methods like cheating, stealing, taking advantage of other people’s weaknesses, and harming people among other things.
Would you be proud of yourself if you achieve success using those means? Would you really have a great story to tell? There is no HONOR in it, right?
And if you failed, but you resisted to do bad things, then I guess you still did a great job. Because you chose to uphold your values despite being in a bad situation.
Part II: Things to Remember to Overcome Failure
1. It isn’t embarrassing to fail.
This is what I kept telling myself when I suffered my first business failure. Admittedly, you’ll feel the embarrassment because you think that people are expecting a lot from you, or you just think that the idea of failing is plainly embarrassing.
Well, not really.
But let’s be honest, there will be people who will talk and laugh behind your back, and people who would love to see you fail. And that’s how the world is made, you cannot change it.
What you can change is how you face yourself in times of defeat. And if your answer to all the questions in Part I is YES, there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
2. Keep trying.
There is always a chance to start over again. Don’t lose the fighting spirit. Rest for a little while, reconnect with people, binge on some movies that you missed, recollect yourself, breathe deep, and then start again.
I often encounter this popular quote when talking about failure: “If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan but not the goal.”
Just like what I said in A Life with Less: Finding Meaning and Happiness, there are several roads leading to a destination. It goes the same with the goals that we have. At times we are focused on a single plan of action that when it fails to deliver, we think that there is no other way to succeed.
But there is, and it’s called ADJUSTMENT. Go back to the list that you made on your self-assessment, and check out each and every action that you executed. Try to identify which one went wrong and make the necessary adjustments the next time you take action.
At times, we fail not because of our lack of dedication, hard work, or passion. Sometimes we fail because of lack of COMPETENCE — the necessary skills and knowledge needed to perform a task successfully.
A good example is if you ask a car mechanic to perform accounting duties. He has a high probability of failing because he lacks the accounting knowledge. And the result would be the same if you ask an accountant to fix a car with serious issues. Both people are excellent in their respective fields, but they don’t have the competence to perform the other.
On your next attempt, make sure to acquire all necessary learning and skills that you might need. Again, there is still a risk to it, but it gives you a higher probability to succeed.
3. Spend some time alone and plan your next move.
It is okay to mope around for a little while when trying to overcome failure. I understand, because I did it too. Failing is heartbreaking. And just like all other heartbreaks, we sometimes want to be left alone to just feel the sadness, cry, and have some peace. It is okay, but do not isolate yourself for a long time, you cannot deal with it alone.
And while you’re at it, try to plan your next move. Failure is nothing but a chance to change your approach towards something.
4. Spend some time with your family and friends
Once you finally accept your failure, get out of the dark, and reconnect with people. This will help you overcome failure faster.
Be with your family, friends, and with people who support you. This will help you reinforce your lost belief in yourself, and in no time, I am quite sure that you’ll be out there once again chasing the dream!
5. Don’t blame the circumstances or other people. Accept the defeat and move on.
Sometimes, we have the tendency to play the blaming game and point fingers at everyone but ourselves. It is called “victim mentality”. In this case, a victim of circumstances or a victim of other people’s negligence or lack of involvement.
I’ve been there too, and trust me, by thinking this way, you are going to make matters more difficult for you. You will not overcome failure this way because you are basically telling your mind that you have no control over what happens, and you cannot do anything to make the situation better. You basically make yourself helpless and powerless.
Try to think this way:
If you notice, when you change the way you look at the recent situation, you give the control back to yourself. You aren’t a victim, you are just a person who failed to foresee the future problems that you might encounter.
Blaming looks like an easy escape because you are trying to avoid embarrassment or criticism about your character. But it is a losing battle. You cannot hide from the fact that at some point, you got to be truly honest with yourself and own your failure.
Keep in mind that even though things didn’t turn out the way you wanted to, you still have the control over what happens next.
6. Failure gives you a fresh perspective in life.
Tony Robbins once said: “I’ve come to believe that all my past failure and frustrations were actually laying the foundation for the understanding that has created the new level of living I now enjoy.”
Losing a battle teaches you a very important life lesson that could be very helpful on your future decisions. This is very true when you realize your mistakes in execution, and errors in judgment.
It lays the foundation (lessons) that you need to have a better chance of succeeding in the future. Moreover, failure doesn’t only teach you what to do next, but also what NOT to do next.
7. Failure gives you a chance to have a fresh start.
New beginnings are always sweeter than the first one. This is the silver lining in every failure that we encounter. I believe that things happen for a reason, and the same goes for failure.
It isn’t the end of the road, but an opportunity to begin again. But in this new beginning, along with your learning and new perspective, you are definitely going to be wiser.
8. Failure gives you a story to tell.
A person who has had several failures in the past but managed to get back on his feet will always be more interesting than the person who has had nothing but success since day one.
Failure adds depth to you as a person, and it makes you more interesting because you accumulate stories to tell and lessons to share. By failing, you gain wisdom.
Failure is like a condiment to a bland piece of meat. It adds flavors to your life. And these flavors are your experiences and struggles to survive. Just like what salt and pepper does to a boring piece of steak, failures make your victory even more flavorful.
9. Perhaps failing is necessary.
Perhaps you needed that failure to know how to play the bigger game of life. Sometimes we fail because we have to learn, or that we have to humble ourselves.
Nonetheless, when you get to truly understand the real essence of failure, you’ll get to discover who you really are, how strong you are, and how capable you are of getting back on your feet and keep on fighting.
Remember, the real test of your tenacity and capability is when you are tried, not when you are victorious.
Conclusion: Never give up.
“There is no failure for the man who realizes his power, who never knows when he is beaten; there is no failure for the determined endeavor; the unconquerable will. There is no failure for the man who gets up every time he falls, who rebounds like a rubber ball, who persists when everyone else gives up, who pushes on when everyone else turns back.” -Orison Swett Marden
I don’t wanna sound cliche, but truly, GREAT THINGS ARE COMING YOUR WAY. However, you have to put in the work.
For me, what’s most important is for you to keep going so you don’t lose your momentum. Do not give up. Every failure is just a hurdle in your way to success. Be brave, and be bold.
To overcome failure, you must have a conscious effort to heal, rise up, and say “I am moving on with my life, no matter how hurt, or disappointed, or frustrated I am. I will keep going, I won’t let this failure define me.” It won’t be easy because moving on isn’t easy.
It is nearly impossible to live a life that is purely made out of success and no failure. Unless you play it too safe that you do not attempt to take risks at all. In such a case, you failed to live.