In 1928 a scientist failed to keep his laboratory clean.
Yet he succeeded at something many failed at during the World Wars – he saved millions of lives.
In 1962 a band auditioned for a contract, and they didn’t get it.
The audition tape was estimated at 90 000$ in 2019.
In the 1990s, a book was rejected by 12 publishers before finally getting out in 1997 with immediate success.
The book franchise is now estimated at $25 billion.
Sir Alexander Fleming (who discovered penicillin), The Beatles, and J.K. Rowling have something in common – they tried at least one more time.
But as another very successful person puts it:
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”— Albert Einstein
Successful people learn from failure and try again.
But aren’t they just lucky?
“Win or learn” for the win
You can argue that for every “failure and success” story, there are millions of “fail only” stories.
You’re right. Chance plays a tremendous role in our journey to our goals.
However, I’d like to argue that repeatedly learning from failure increases your chances of success.
Athletes are probably the ones who know this best.
But can everybody be obscenely wealthy while writing history?
Do fame and fortune define success?
Inspiring stories of successful people aside, for you, success might not be fame or fortune.
It might be mastering a skill, organizing a crushing party, helping your friend or colleague grow, raising a child, nailing your dream job, creating content, or a small business that helps your community.
It’s not about writing history. It’s about you, writing your own story.
You might fail at your first attempt to reach your goals. That’s totally ok if you learn from it.
Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.
Learning from failure: easy to say, hard to master
Fear of failure is very much real.
Humans don’t like to fail and tend to distance themselves from their mistakes or from other humans who failed.
This is incredibly sad – research shows that learning from failure is the backbone of innovation.
So, how do you learn from failure when in reality, people tend to pretend, judge or ignore others who dare to dream and push for their ideas without immediate results?
Let me show you the three simple steps.
It starts with being honest with yourself.
Step 1: Admit failure
It’s the moment you realize the results you wanted or promised are far from where they should be.
It’s time to:
- Face the current facts
- Compare the facts with the desired results
- Admit how big of a gap you see
- Talk openly about the gap (if you can)
I get it; this might be scary – admitting failure can have a lot of consequences in a toxic working or personal environment.
I promise that admitting failure will gain you a lot of respect in a healthy one.
You’d be surprised how much support you get when you share your plan to fix the situation or your intention to prevent others from making your mistake.
Step 2: Reflect and focus
Once you admit that you’re not where you want to be, you need a new plan to get there.
Think about what went wrong in this attempt.
Ask yourself what is under and beyond your control.
It’s time to:
- Accept the things you cannot control
- Focus on the things you can control
Step 3: Make new mistakes
Failure is perfect from one perspective – it’s in the past.
That means you have all the information you didn’t have back then when you were trying.
All is left to do is ask yourself:
- What would you do differently in the past
- What will you do now to avoid the same mistake
- Decide on a new action
Every success comes with a few learnings along the way.
The difference between someone who reached a goal and those who didn’t is often the number of attempts they made and how they applied their learnings.
You have zero chance of getting where you want to be only if you don’t take any action to get there.
So, don’t let yourself or others discourage you – take failure for what it really is – an opportunity for you to be better.
Make new mistakes with every setback – it’s called progress.
Learn from every failure and cherish the experience – this is how people grow.