Note: This is a guest post from Fred Tracy of FredTracy.com
If you’re like most people, you probably have a bad relationship with failure. You see it as an ending, as proof that your plan didn’t succeed or your ideas weren’t good enough. The truth is, failure happens to everyone. The only thing that separates people who succeed from those who don’t is a proper understanding of the power of failure. Success requires that you learn from mistakes and missteps along the way rather than falling into despair and giving up.
Pay attention to the information here, especially if you’re at a place where failure isn’t your friend, and you will find that opportunity lies in every defeat. Here are 3 reasons why failure is the key to success.
1. Failure is a Function of Trying
The best way to measure your progress at something is the number of setbacks and “failures” you’ve had. If you haven’t failed yet, chances are you aren’t trying very hard. Failure is the blacksmith’s hammer that tempers the sword of success. If you want to get really good at something, you have to fail at least a few times.
If you look at all the great men and women throughout history, you’ll notice that they had one main thing in common. They failed, and they failed often. Think of Thomas Edison. How many times did he fail to find the right filament for his light bulb? There are various estimates, but they all range in the ballpark of a whole heck of a lot. Henry Ford knew of failure intimately. So much so that he is quoted for saying the following: “Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.”
Clearly, failure represents opportunity and growth, not deficit and loss.
2. Success Lies in Seeing Failure as a Tool
Just as all the greats have something in common, so too do the true “failures” of life: their inability to use failure as a tool. When you feel that sinking, desperate sensation known as failure and you take it to heart, you diminish yourself. You give your power away to an external event. Success is about learning how to recognize why you failed, and how you’re going to compensate for it.
I find it helpful to ask myself the following questions upon failures, big and small.
- What brought about the failure?
- How much of it is in my realm of influence?
- How can I use my influence to turn failure into success?
- What steps do I need to go through to try again?
- What can I do every day to ensure that my next try is done more intelligently?
You may want to get out a piece of paper and go through that list. Be completely open and honest as you ask yourself each question. Analyze your answers carefully and implement them – don’t procrastinate! Remember, failure is an opportunity, not a burden. Be grateful for a chance to grow.
3. Failure Builds Character
If you look at the events leading up to any significant victory, you’ll often discover failure as the biggest motivator. Just as the Colorado River created the Grand Canyon over a period of millions of years, success can also come in small chunks, and they’re part of any winning strategy. On the other hand, waiting years upon years for something to happen isn’t effective when you can take action now.
So what do you need to consistently test yourself and learn from failed attempts? Character.
Success occurs in leaps and bounds for people who are ready for it. To genuinely create value, day in and day out, requires determination, purpose, and most of all, that subtle yet all-important trait known as character. Failure is a far better character builder than any affirmation or fleeting goal. While each success will propel you by a small amount, failure will forge your career – and your personality – like nothing else will. It’s the difference between a natural lake being formed over thousands of years and a man-made lake coming into fruition in under a year.
Success takes willpower, intelligence, determination, and grit. But more than anything else, it requires failure. Use this is an opportunity to reassess your relationship to the true key to success that so many people fear.
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Fred Tracy runs a personal development website where he writes about his unique experiences and insights into growing yourself. He writes in a humorous, direct style, and aims at entertaining his readers as much as helping them better themselves.
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Failure is the stepping stone for success Swallow defeat
23 Aug 2012, Vol 0 Issue 1
It's almost impossible to go through life without experiencing some kind of failure. Failure is a part of life; everyone has experienced failure at some time or other.
“Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even,” legendary boxer Muhammad Ali had once declared.
(To Read the Real Life Success Story of the founder of Naturals, who bounced back after a failed venture that left him with a debt of Rs. 5 Crore, Click Here)
Yet the greatest barrier to success and one of the biggest fears in life that people have is - fear of failure. It is also the major reason that holds back people from realizing their full potential and achieving their goals.
Failure is the stepping stone to success (Photo: FreeImages.com/ Christopher Bruno - for representational purpose only)
Fear of failure immobilizes you, restricts you to your comfort zone, prevents you from moving forward in life and hampers your chances of success.
Defeat is not easy to swallow. There is no worse feeling than facing failure. Failure leaves you bitter, miserable and depressed.
It is then not difficult to understand why most people are afraid of failing. They prefer to play it safe by restricting themselves to their comfort zone and avoiding any risks.
But playing it safe can also be risky. It puts you out of action. You choose to forgo potential opportunities and push yourself into mediocrity. When you restrict yourself to your cocoon, you keep yourself from tapping your full potential.
Failure is a matter of perspective. Many think failure as the opposite of success. But failures are in fact the stepping stones of success. Nothing worthwhile in life has ever been achieved without a series of failures. Failure is, as James Allen has rightly pointed out, one of the ‘pathways to attainment.’
Buckminster Fuller, the renowned American philosopher, architect, and inventor, popularly considered to be the father of American landscape architecture once said, “Whatever humans have learned had to be learned as a consequence only of trial and error experience. Humans have learned only through mistakes.”
Fuller has to his credit 28 patents; has authored 28 books and has received more than 60 honorary degrees.
Successful people also make mistakes. They also fail but they don’t give up. Instead they remain steadfast. They overcome their fear of failure and are quick to learn from their mistakes.
There are numerous examples of celebrities, sportspersons, actors, authors and leaders who inspite of facing defeat did not give up on their dreams. They succeeded in overcoming their fear of failure.
Michael Jordan was cut from the school basketball team; Steve Jobs was fired from his own company; Warren Buffet was rejected by Harvard University, Richard Branson is a high school dropout, Abraham Lincoln lost eight elections and Thomas Edison, failed more than 1,000 times when trying to create the light bulb.
Failure did not keep these great people away from achieving their goals and becoming extra-ordinarily successful.
As Emerson said, “Life is a series of experiments, the more you make the better. Each failure is a trial in an experiment and an opportunity for growth. Even if a failure costs you financially, the educational benefits can far outweigh the loss.”
Overcoming fear of failure is a major factor toward the achievement of goals. The highly successful people are not the most intelligent, most gifted or blessed.
They are just ordinary people who view failures as temporary speed breakers on the road to success. They are successful because they have developed the skill of learning from their mistakes and are willing to move out of their comfort zone and take calculated risks.
When you try, there is no guarantee that you will succeed. But if you don’t try, you are sure to fail.
So don’t let fear of failure hold you back from reaching out for your goals. The key to success is not avoiding failure but to overcome the fear of failure; learn from your failures and use them to build yourself up.
"Failure should be our teacher not our undertaker.
Failure is delay not defeat.
It is temporary detour not a dead end." –Denis Waitley
The Author is a Motivational counselor, Speaker, Ophthalmologist, and Author of 'Principles of Success Made Easy-14 Easy Steps to Climb the Ladder of Success'