Succeed at failing

In school we are taught failure is a bad thing. We are encouraged to succeed and then we will never have to worry about being punished. Punishment, in our young minds becomes interwoven with failure and we see the world in very black and white terms. You either succeed or fail. You either get the job or you don’t. No two ways about it. However, if you let go of this conventional idea that failure is a punishment and begin to look at failure as a great teacher you will begin to succeed in ways you never imagined.

Fear of failure and avoiding it will keep you from taking risks. Blaming failure for all your problems is an excuse. Failing constantly at the same thing means you haven't learned your lesson and as the saying goes "Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.” We don't fail to be punished. We don't fail because life sucks. We don't fail because the world is a terrible place. We fail as a course correction, to get us to pay attention. We fail to learn a lesson. You only truly fail when you miss the lesson.

Like the ancestral roots of a family tree, trace all your failures. How are they directly or indirectly related to something wonderful? How are they connected to your biggest triumphs? What wonderful thing came out of a failure?

Perhaps the interview went terribly, the sting of rejection burns for a minute but don’t get trapped there. Ask yourself what could have been different? What could I have done better? Failure does not ensure a lesson will be learned unless you mine the emotional coal for the diamond. Unless you figure it out, you will continue to fail at the exact same thing. If you disregard the failure as a fluke, you are bound to repeat it until you get the message. When you learn your lesson, you will change your behavior. When you fail and learn a lesson from it, then you have succeeded at failing.

Next time you interview, it is for your dream job and this time you are prepared because you know what not to do. If you hadn’t fallen flat on your face you wouldn’t have been prepared- in essence, you get the job because you failed at the other interviews. They were practice. Reframe your failures as lessons and love them for the wisdom they bring. Now, that you trace your failures to your successes ask yourself how am I smarter, braver and better prepared than before? What was gained that far outweighs what was lost?

There is no need to be punished, there is no need to beat yourself up, be grateful for the lesson, dust yourself off and change up your behavior. When you realize the car was in drive and not reverse, tell yourself accidents happen. Trial by error, failure by failure, each one will teach you something awesome, each one will broaden your horizons, each one will shape you if you let them.