How to: Deal with Failure

No matter how you spin it, failure is hard to deal with. However, it’s also an inescapable part of life. Everyone has experienced failure at some point in their lives. In the media and communications world, people are no different. Whether it be a missed employment opportunity, or perhaps poor job performance. Everybody makes mistakes. However, in each and every mistake and misstep, there is a lesson to be learned. All we have to do is discover what that lesson is. This article focuses on provide a brief guide on how to deal with failure.

Firstly, it is important to separate failure from our identity. One mistake does not change who we are as a person. As Thomas Edison famously said:

I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 that won’t work.

Secondly, it is important to reflect on our mistakes, ask yourself:

  • Why did I fail?
  • What could I have done better?
  • What will I do better the next time around?

You will find that resilient people don’t just look on the bright side of things and push away negative emotions. They let themselves experience what they’re feeling, both the good and the bad.

The next step is to stop dwelling on past mistakes. Give yourself a certain amount of time to reflect, say 24 hours, and then move on to the next project. There really is no use in sitting around moping about your problems. As stated earlier, it’s important to acknowledge your shortcomings, but even more important to learn from them. In doing so, you might approach the same problem differently, and find out that it wasn’t as difficult as you first thought.

Finally, it is vital to stop needing the approval of others. At the end of the day, the only approval that really matters is yours. Quite often, our fear of failure is rooted in our fear of being judged and losing the respect of others. We can’t afford to spend our whole lives worrying about what everyone else thinks. There will always be people who don’t agree with you, or think their way is the best, but we should never let that stop us from being who we are, and doing what we want.

In the immortal words of Winston Churchill and then legendary basketball coach John Wooden: “Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It’s the courage to continue that counts.”

By Matthew Wright


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