“Resilient people… view each failure as an opportunity to sharpen their skills and become better” – Amy Morin, psychotherapist & author
Let’s face it, no one likes to fail, but it doesn’t always have to be a bad thing; in fact, it can often be turned into a positive.
Take Thomas Edison, who worked his way through 1,000 prototypes before successfully inventing the light-bulb. When asked how it felt to fail 1,000 times, he responded: “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
Similarly, in his book the Psychology of Achievement, Brian Tracy documents four millionaires who’d made their money by age 35, and who had, on average, been involved in 17 failed businesses before hitting the jack-pot.
And Thomas Edison and Tracy’s millionaires aren’t alone; being resilient to failure, and using it to fuel future success, is a strategy some of the most successful and resilient people have perfected. And here’s how they do it; successful people…
1) Keep their failures in perspective; they don’t exaggerate their mistakes. One of the best ways to achieve this is to use the 24 hour rule; in other words, don’t dwell on your failures (or successes) for more than 24 hours; give yourself time to process the event before moving on and putting it behind you.
2) Take the time to learn lessons from their failures. Just as some people can dwell too long on their mistakes – which can erode confidence and waste time – some can do the opposite and bury their head; losing out on learning valuable lessons in the process. Resilient people identify why they have failed, and how they can avoid the situation next time.
3) De-personify failure. Making a mistake doesn’t mean you are a failure; failings are individual events and don’t define you. Confident people accept this distinction, and don’t let failure, or the opinion of others, dent their self-esteem.
4) View failure as the beginning of a future success. Successful people view failure as the start of something better; they learn lessons and strategise for the future, while their resilience allows them to face repeated attempts, and possible failures, without giving up.
It’s often the fear of failure which is the biggest obstacle stopping us achieving our goals. So, if you try and follow these steps next time you feel disappointed with a grade, essay, or anything else, then you’re much more likely to go on to succeed with confidence.