“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
Hopefully most of us won’t stumble from failure to failure too much before tasting sweet success, however the sentiment behind the famous Brit’s saying is true: failure can be a stepping stone to success.
The part about not losing enthusiasm is critical though – it’s not just experiencing failure that prepares us for success, but the way we react to it.
So here are five ways that failure can prepare us for success.
1. Failure can be motivating
For many people (though not necessarily everyone), the experience of failing at something we cared about is both painful and shameful. In short, failure ’s a horrible feeling. Once we’ve experienced that feeling, most people simply don’t want to ever feel that way again. Having felt that way though, forming a determination not to feel that way again can create a powerful motivation for us to succeed in our next endeavor. So when you fail at something, take a moment to accept it and feel the burn, then remember that feeling, and finally use the memory to drive you on to greater things.
2. Failure can be liberating
Some people fail because they are so afraid of failure that failure becomes almost inevitable – their fear leads them towards it. When they get there however, they may experience a sensation of liberation, allowing them to overcome their fear so that they can approach their next endeavor with a freer and more positive state of mind.
3. Failure is a great opportunity to learn
Failure is an incredible opportunity to learn. If you just remember one idea from this article, remember this one. At times when we’re doing well, when we’re on a roll, typically we don’t take time out to take a step back and analyze what we’re doing right and learn from it. Often, we simply don’t have the time.
When we fail on the other hand, we often do have the time to stop and think about why we failed, and so long as we can analyze this objectively (rather than sentimentally) nine times out of ten we will gain valuable insights into why things didn’t work out. This knowledge will then inform our future endeavors, allowing us to succeed in the future.
One thing we may learn from failure when we reflect on it is that it is a necessary symptom of taking risks, and as entrepreneurs we must take(calculated) risks, so failure is just a part of the process.
4. Failure challenges us and so helps us grow
Failure is almost always challenging. This may mean dealing with shame, as well as letting go of a project that we may have put a lot into, and there may be logistical challenges too such as wrapping up a business perhaps. Almost always though, we come out the other side stronger and more confident for having passed through the fire and survived – having fallen and got up again. The strength and confidence that we gain from the experience are valuable tools that we carry forward into our next challenge.
5. Failure makes us more adaptive, a crucial ingredient of success
Failing forces us to adapt. We perhaps had a clear path mapped out in our head of a future that was tied up with our failed endeavor that we have to let go of as we figure out a new path forward. The ability to adapt to circumstances and change tact as we have to after a failure is a key attribute that will help underpin future success.
So, when you fail at something, own the feeling and bottle if for motivation, analyze what went wrong and so how to avoid making the same mistakes in the future, adapt to the new reality, and move forward without fear.
I’d like to finish off as I started though, with another one of Winston Churchill’s many great quotes, again applicable to when we experience failure:
“If you’re going through hell, keep going!”