When failure happens: A preemptive guide to moving on
Even though we all know that failure is a fact of life,
Even though we’ve watched people both near and far fail and successfully come back from it,
Even though our favorite superhero is usually the one that has to overcome adversity first,
Most of us spend more time dreading failure than actually preparing for it or looking for ways to soften the blow when it comes.
Anyone who wants to succeed however, must also know how to deal with failure without losing enthusiasm along the way, or giving up altogether.
In the same way that we write business plans, rehearse speeches and plan parties days before they are slated to happen, we must also figure out an action plan for when things go south.
Not only will this plan help us to fear failure less, it will also help us to move on more swiftly when it does happen.
Step 1: Grieve, but don’t dwell.
When we stand there facing failure and all our crushed hopes and dreams coupled with the work and effort we’ve put into achieving them, our initial reaction may be to turn away or feign nonchalance, but that will only hurt you in the long run.
To be able to move on from any kind of loss, we need to allow ourselves to acknowledge and work through the feelings that come with it. Give yourself time to adjust and try not to make any important decisions while you’re still reeling, but also have an end point in mind.
Even though we can not predict when the feelings that accompany loss will subside, we can decide when to stop wallowing and embrace the possibility of life once again.
Step 2: Take responsibility and learn your lessons.
The second step and arguably most important, is to accept the part that we played in the failure. It may have been a lack of preparation, an issue with the team we assembled, or inadequacy in our skill set.
No matter what the issue turns out to be, accepting responsibility restores our power because it shows us what we can do now or in the future to prevent similar mistakes.
We may need to take time out to learn, tweak our approach or figure out a new direction altogether, but we definitely won’t feel helpless if we accept our shortcomings and open ourselves up to growth.
Step 3: Move on to the next thing.
“If you keep the wheel turning, success never runs out. It is infinitely abundant. As long as you are letting go of your failures and remaining open to what wants to emerge, there will always be something else waiting for you.” Simon T. Bailey.
The only way to move past a failure is to disengage and move on to the next project. You may still carry your doubts and fears with you, but trusting yourself to try again, no matter how wounded, will inevitably lead to new lessons, progress, and ultimately success.
You don’t have to avoid failure or feel helpless in the face of it.
You only have to remember that you have the power to try again and do better next time, and that will always lead you closer to the success that you seek.