Embracing failure is not an automatic human reaction. Failure can be embarrassing, unsettling, and most of all, discouraging. We want to reach our goals with little or no interference, but sometimes we fall short and make things more difficult for ourselves. We often hear that failure is not an option, so our automatic response to our own failure is to let go of our hopes and give up on whatever achievement we were trying to reach. When we see other people fail we sometimes even feel embarrassed for them instead of showing encouragement. It may take some rewiring of the brain, but we do not have to look at failure as the end. In fact, failure is necessary if we ever want to improve.
Here are some things we can do to handle failure better or fail forward.
By using perspective when thinking of the word ‘failure’ we can train our brains to think positively about failing. When I hear the word ‘failing’ I think of avoidance. I want to avoid failing because it will set me back from what I want to accomplish. Then that thing that I want to accomplish is further from my reach. The thing that we do not hear as often is that failure is an option and sometimes it can even make you rich and famous. For example, on the television show America’s Funniest Home Videos, failure is viewed as comedic relief and could potentially win you a lot of money. Just remember in the face of failure to always laugh with yourself and not at yourself. From that perspective, failure seems a bit more encouraging and easier to embrace.
Encouraging others when they fail is another way to fail forward. As I mentioned before, our empathy can sometimes cause us to take pity on those who do not accomplish their goals. Instead of doing this, it would be more productive to share words of encouragement and support with those who fail. By treating others this way, we are also reminding ourselves that we are not alone in failure, and that there are support systems all around willing to help us back up when we do fail. The more we uplift others, the more likely they are to rally for us later.
Learn from the failure. This could mean not repeating the same steps and getting a new outcome or even being innovative and using the failure to create something new. As the late, great Bob Ross would say, “happy little accidents” can sometimes add to the bigger picture. It is not fruitful to discard every bad thing that happens to us without growing from it. Failure is no different, and there is always something to take away from our experiences. It may require humility to remind ourselves that we are bound to fail, and that it is okay. But, we can also be proud and use our failures to our advantage.
Even though failure can be discouraging, the most important step in failing forward is to persevere. No matter how high the odds are stacked against us, if we show a little grit and keep trying, eventually we will find a way to reach our goals. Success is no easy task, but without the struggles we face we would lack character and a good story to share. So embrace the struggles, and do not be discouraged because failure is inevitable and it molds you into a stronger and smarter person.
Now in the spirt if grit, preserving, and failures, here is a compilation of only a few of my early videos. Okay feel free to laugh at me here.