Afailure is not always a mistake, it may simple be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.
– B.F. Skinner, psychologist
Failure stings. It’s associated with a host of negative feelings: defeat, shame, weakness, loss. Yet many of the world’s most successful people have failed repeatedly before achieving success.
Jack Ma flunked the university entrance exams in his native China three times and failed at two business ventures before finally succeeding with his multibillion-dollar e-commerce company, Alibaba. J.K. Rowling was an unemployed, divorced mother writing her first novel in local cafes, fielding rejections from a dozen publishing houses before the Harry Potter franchise exploded. Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star because his editor felt he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” (Thirty years after Disney’s death, The Walt Disney Company briefly acquired the newspaper.) Even Steve Jobs had a failure of sorts, with his venture at NeXT, before his return to Apple.
So, what does it mean that so many people who have left their mark on history have had at least one or more failures behind them? Perhaps there is no straight line between success and failure, no special club of high achievers who never learn what it’s like to come up short. Failure is universal.
Does chance truly determine who succeeds? Not necessarily. There are steps you can take to prevent failure from engulfing your life and derailing your dreams.
Accept Failure as Inevitable
Adopt a growth mindset. Think of failure as a stepping-stone toward success. Use the lessons you have learned from past failures to improve your performance in the future. If you accept that you will fail some of the time, it nullifies the fear that comes with it.
Surround Yourself with Support
Don’t keep your thoughts and emotions to yourself. Talk about your failure or rejection with people you trust – family members, friends, a qualified therapist. Release your pent-up feelings. Vent. Cry, if you must. Through the support of those closest to you, you’ll overcome your setback and bounce back stronger than before.
Avoid Comparing Yourself to Others
It’s unwise to compare yourself to anyone else. You don’t know what turmoil others may be experiencing beneath the calm exterior they present to the world, what they may be dealing with themselves, or what they’ve overcome on their own journey. Each person’s path is littered with errors and mishaps. Just keep moving toward your own destination and goals, and don’t focus on what other people have achieved.
Never Give Up
Take heart. Read the works of motivational authors like Tony Robbins or Louise Hay. You’re alive, so you still have time to achieve your greatest success and be your best self. The seeds of your future are being sown today.
Nezha Boutamine | Contributing Writer