I have some bad news and some good news: no matter what, you will have to handle failure.
Yes, you will fail.
But the good news is there are plenty of ways to grow from that experience.
For sure you can have a persistent mindset. You can get into the mentality to never give up. But there are other methods to consider that I want to share today.
After all, failure is such a big step along the journey we’re on. As such, it’s important to have other options that’ll help you as well.
Here is how you can handle failure like a champ.
Make Failure Emotional
Like I said above, failure is part of the process. It’s a process we don’t like, but it’s absolutely important. But why?
Well, the answer was actually uncovered in a study done by the University of Kansas a while back. What the study found was that people who got emotional and beat themselves up about it, the more likely they’d succeed the next time.
What does this mean for us?
It means that the circumstances surrounding our failure need to be so intense that they trigger deep emotions.
If you want to be able to handle failure, you’re going to need to learn how harsh failure can be to you. Best of all we can take active steps towards that. Here is how you can make your failures more emotional:
- First, ensure the goal you are pursuing is something you’re heavily invested in. Ask yourself why you want to achieve that goal? Spend some time researching and dedicating a block of your life to working on that goal. If you don’t care about the goal, you’re not going to care if you fail at it.
- Second, find other elements to keep you invested and heavily motivated in achieving that task. Incentives can be competitive in nature (i.e. you and a friend compete to see who can achieve their goal first), or even financial (i.e. give your friend a large sum of money with the promise to return it if you complete the goal in time.). It goes back to the first point, if you aren’t invested, you’re not going to feel the sting.
- Third, avoid suppressing your emotions should you fail. As the study I linked above showed, people instinctively suppress the feelings of failure. We rationalize it. Train yourself to not rationalize your failure. You failed. There is nothing to it.
Understand Failures Start Early
Failures take all kinds of shapes and forms. In fact, we face failure a lot earlier than you’d think. We face failures from when we are little.
From failure to form a proper word to be able to walk.
Of course, we don’t remember those cases, nor do we see these as failures, but they certainly are.
As I said, failures take all shapes and forms. The only difference is how we’ve developed over time. It’s why we don’t really consider trying to walk or talk as failures.
Regardless, having this perspective can be an eye-opening experience for that reason. Understanding that we already have ample experience in failure is key. After all, looking back to those failures can help us grow and better handle ourselves.
Think back to when you were a baby and tried walking. For sure our muscles weren’t strong enough to support our body hence we struggled with balancing. However, when you fell over, you didn’t give up.
You didn’t think you weren’t cut out for walking.
No. You tried again.
Maybe not immediately, but maybe the next day or in a few hours.
You built up your confidence to try again and again.
This principle applies to all kinds of things. From riding a bike for the first time. With and without training wheels. Even with applying for colleges or universities.
Having that mentality of getting hurt and picking yourself back up is key. How you can do that is through a variety of ways. I’ve already mentioned certain mindsets, however being able to see lessons from failures can help.
Understand That Failure Isn’t About Making Mistakes
Another saying that floats around are you want to be failing as much as possible. The more you fail, the more you learn.
I think there is a nugget of truth, but it can also be misleading.
Misleading in the sense that people may want to actively seek failure. To the point that they’ll sabotage themselves and make mistakes on purpose.
Failure isn’t about how many mistakes you make but rather the quality of those mistakes. Yes, you should allow yourself to make mistakes and fail. However, you want to understand they are part of the process. Let them happen naturally, get angry and frustrated, and then move on and grow from it.
Failure boils down to that but also walking away from something that scares you. Failure is settling for something that you didn’t sign up for in your life. Whether that’s a career choice or other decisions.
For example, I consider me studying to be an accountant a failure. But in the process, it taught me to be more passionate. It taught me to be vocal and understand what my wants and needs are.
Learn To Avoid Failure
I think that understanding the ins and outs of failure is key. After all, if you want to handle failure, you need to have a deep and personal connection with it.
Then – and only then – can you learn how to avoid failure.
Here are some tips to help you along the way to ensure that you never have to deal with failure again.
- Take responsibility – Failure has taught me that I’m the biggest contributor to why I fail. As such, it’s entirely up to me to avoid failure in the future. This is the same case for you. This is your life and you decide in the end how you want your life to play out. As such, do the things you really want to do and say the things you do want to say.
- Take action – Make active steps towards the goals you have. Don’t have goals? Set them and work towards them. This isn’t to say that you won’t fail from them. Again, you certainly will. But get into the habit of picking yourself up and working through it.
- Help yourself – When times get tougher and there doesn’t seem to be anything you can do, make a habit of looking inward. Stop looking at all the problems around you, but rather inside. From there, start helping yourself. Examples are saying thank you to yourself, helping other people directly, or even giving yourself a hug and taking a nap. Do something good that’ll help yourself and you’ll feel better and stronger.
Handling failure is no easy task, but it is manageable. The key here is to not eliminate failure entirely from your life. Even with this overall strategy, this technique will help you in managing and addressing failure.
It can get to a point where something bad isn’t exactly a failure but rather a “setback” or a “roadblock” on your path to success. Once you get into that mentality, you can handle failures and grow from them exceptionally.
To your growth!
Eric S Burdon