There are certain interesting and powerful things you should know about failure that could change your life forever. You’ll get to know seven of them shortly.
I’ll be devoting this article to the most disgraced, overworked and unappreciated guy in the whole world.
Failure has helped to build vast fortunes around the world and is the secret habit of many successful entrepreneurs, athletes, politicians and celebrities. For all the work he does, failure hardly gets as much media attention as success which totally steals the show.
There appears to be a thick smoke of conspiracy that prevents us from truly appreciating the value of failure.
Everybody thinks failure is that bad and evil thing to be feared and avoided. Interestingly, failure holds the golden keys to the success that many of us desperately wish for.
Failure has been totally misunderstood for hundreds of years. And in this article, failure reveals 7 secrets about his personality that successful people do not often tell us.
1. Everybody fails
It strikes me that human life was built on the foundation of failure.
Have you ever enjoyed the privilege of watching a baby walk for the first time? It’s an amazing sight.
Most babies never succeed the first time they try; they often fail, fall and cry.
And then something interesting happens; every baby tries again. Failure after failure, he tries again.
In a couple of months, he’ll be running all over the place, having fun and being naughty. Those same legs that couldn’t stand and walk will have learned to run.
How? It’s all about trial and error. That’s what life is about.
To succeed in most things, failure is often involved.
In today’s society, failure has earned such a bad name that nobody in her right mind wants to be associated with it.
Only when people become successful do we celebrate them on magazine covers and in the news. We admire them. We want to be like them. We think they have a magic charm that we do not possess. It’s no wonder that success attracts a lot of fans and friends.
Photo credit: aidancurran.com
If most successful entrepreneurs told you how many times they failed before achieving success, you may doubt it.
I think the media shares a huge chunk of the blame in this regard. We tend to focus too much on the success side of every story and refuse to consider the dark moments of failure and long nights of toiling that come before.
We forget how many times that successful businessman tried to raise capital and failed. We may not even know that he started four different businesses that failed before he stumbled on a successful business.
There is often a failure side to every success story. The problem is, nobody is telling it and nobody wants to listen.
Show me a successful entrepreneur who’s never failed and I’ll show you a liar.
Nobody’s above failure.
It’s in our genetic makeup. Humans are designed to learn from trial and error. We are the smartest creatures on earth because we’re willing to experiment and test different things.
All the inventions we now enjoy and take for granted took years and centuries of failure to produce: plastic, mobile phones, light bulbs, solar panels, engines and most especially, the internet!
Successful entrepreneurs, inventors and celebrities don’t have any superhuman powers. They failed their way to the top. Remember, EVERYBODY fails!
2. Failure, like success, is a natural consequence of taking action
If you don’t shoot, you can’t score. It’s both a truth and the fundamental principle in every football game.
If you’re afraid to take a shot because you think you’ll miss, you may never score a goal in your life!
It’s simple logic: if you don’t take action, no matter how little or insignificant, nothing happens. Nothing moves until you move.
Failure, like success, happens as a result of the actions we take in life. By taking action, you’re many times better than most people who just keep dreaming of taking action but never do. By taking action, you’re stronger and bolder than millions of people who keep postponing their actions with that popular excuse: ‘I’ll do it tomorrow.’
Everybody can talk and dream, but not everybody takes action. Your courage to take action places you above the cowards who continue to play safe.
Here’s a great lesson I’ve learned from my years of watching football:
A good footballer is never 100 percent sure that his next shot will score a goal. But he still takes the shot, no matter how small the opportunity or chance he finds. Because he knows that in this game of life, you cannot always be sure of the outcome until you take action.
You always have to try. Sometimes he takes a shot and misses. Other times, he takes a shot and the ball grazes the post. He tries again but the goal keeper punches it away. He tries and tries; again and again until suddenly, he scores. Imagine what would have happened if he stopped trying.
The fear of failure is one of the biggest reasons many people never take action.
If you do nothing; you’ll get nothing.
But if you take action, there’s a chance you will succeed. A slim chance is always better than no chance at all.
3. There’s always a lesson in every failure
Everything happens for a reason, including failure.
Failure is a teacher that shows up in the classroom of your life to teach important lessons.
If you’re an entrepreneur, she would teach you how not to run a business and the best ways to spend money in order to earn the highest return. Failure will light up your road to success by showing you the things that don’t and won’t work.
When I was a university student, there were teachers who couldn’t teach well. They didn’t know how to hold my attention and keep me interested in the subject.
And when the class was over, I could hardly remember anything they said. They were either too boring or too boring. 🙂
Of course, my thoughts were more pleasant and would often wander. (photo credit: millennialonthemove.com)
But failure is a different breed of teacher. Whatever lesson she teaches, you will hardly forget.
In fact, in some of her lessons, you can remember word-for-word everything she says. Although some of her lessons can be tough and very painful, the knowledge, wisdom and experience you gain will stay with you forever. The tougher her lessons, the more valuable they are.
Failure is strict, firm and ruthless. She reminds me of a teacher in my school days, who was feared but her students always passed exams with very high scores. We didn’t want to be in her class but we wanted the kind of results her students had. Of course, there’s only one word to describe such a wish: impossible!
My point here is simple. If you’re fortunate enough to attend one of failure’s classes, you need to make sure that you take a lot of notes, and apply the knowledge and experience you have learned to your advantage. If not, you would have wasted the pain, shame, money and precious time it cost you to attend that class.
Failure may be painful but it never leaves you empty-handed. There’s always a vital lesson to be learned. Think back to the last time you failed. What did you learn?
4. Failure is a mindset
How is it possible that two people who suffered the same painful failure come out of it with different experiences?
One person goes ahead to become successful while the other remains as he was in the beginning?
The answer is simple:
The first person didn’t stop trying and experimenting after the failure while the other person used his failure experience as an excuse to stop trying.
Failure has a very strong personality. When you meet her, she either has a strong positive or negative effect on you. She either motivates or discourages you.
One thing is sure, nobody remains the same after they experience failure. There’s no indifference or sitting on the fence. But there’s good news; you can always choose the side of the fence you want to be on. You can allow failure to affect you positively or negatively. It’s all about your mindset.
Successful people tend to see failure differently from the rest of us.
In their minds, failure doesn’t exist until you give up and stop trying. How can you say they have failed when they’re still working hard to try again and again? For them, the game is still on and there’s still time to score more goals and change the score.
Successful people will only accept failure by quitting. And they hardly ever quit.
Other people see failure as a ‘sign’ that something cannot be done. To them, failure is the final whistle that ends the game. In their minds, since the game is over, they don’t try again. They give up.
Because they see failure as a ‘final decision,’ they are often too paralyzed to try anything at all that involves risk. If they cannot be assured of 100 percent success in a business opportunity, they will not exploit it. They have developed an unhealthy fear of failure.
Failure reminds me of that amazingly beautiful girl at a party who every man wants to court. Some confident men walk up to her and get a resounding ‘No!’ Some other guys invent excuses in their heads and never find the courage to approach her.
Some of the guys who got a ‘No!’ may think she doesn’t fancy them and never try again.
Interestingly, some other guys who got the same ‘No!’ response are excited at the prospect of a long and interesting chase. No matter how the story ends, the guy who wins the girl is often the guy who tries and tries again.
Change the meaning of failure in your life and you’ll be amazed at how this little adjustment will affect how you see the world.
Never forget; failure means different things to different people.
Convince your mind to see failure as a challenge, an encouragement, a passion and something to be excited about. Failure is a mindset!
5. Failure is never personal
Failure doesn’t mean you’re a stupid and unintelligent person.
Failure doesn’t mean you’re a loser who will never amount to anything in life.
Failure is not a score sheet that defines who you are or what you’ll become.
Purge those harmful thoughts from your mind!
Failure is not partial and has no favorites. Failure doesn’t pick on special people like you to torment and punish. Failure is a blind teacher. Failure is only doing its job. Failure is not personal!
Some people experience such painful failures that it scars them for life. They think they’re cursed and somebody has cast a spell on them (a wicked relative and the devil are common culprits in Africa).
If anything, you should feel blessed and excited that failure keeps showing up at your doorstep.
Remember, failure is a very good teacher. The tougher her training, the greater the results. Giving up at this moment is like quitting school when you’re just a few months away from graduation. What a waste!
Stop blaming yourself for that decision you made that wrecked your business. Stop blaming your lack of knowledge, skill and experience for all your businesses that failed.
The thing you don’t know is that those experiences have made you wiser, stronger and more experienced. Those experiences, if you learn from them, have increased the likelihood of your success if you try again. How come you’ve decided to quit just at the point when you’re more likely to succeed?
The biggest danger about taking your failures personal is that it could cause you serious psychological damage. It could kill your self esteem and make it difficult to ever believe in yourself again.
When you encounter failure, learn the lesson and move on. Stop keeping an unhealthy record of failures that helps you prove to yourself how unworthy and unsuccessful you will ever be. What you think about your date with failure is your business.
Unfortunately, failure makes no apologies.
6. Failure is always an option!
When you have made up your mind to do something but you’re uncertain about the outcome, always remember that failure is an option.
It’s OK to fail!
Unfortunately in Africa, we have become a society that has very little tolerance for failure.
Because many of us are afraid of the negative social consequences of failure, we are often too scared to take any action. It means that we’re more comfortable being cowards than taking any real and brave action, even if it leads to failure.
When we box ourselves into a corner with no way out, there’s bound to be stress.
When you believe that failure is not an option, you mentally lock yourself in a cage that doesn’t allow your creativity, common sense and artfulness to show.
When failure is not an option, we stick to old and outdated traditions because we are too afraid to think differently and try something new.
As a result, our continent hardly invents anything new to share with the world. But we love, import and enjoy loads of new products from other parts of the world. It’s crazy!
When you accept failure as an option, it’s like spreading your wings high up in the sky.
What’s the worst that can happen?
But you already know and have accepted that!
Knowing that failure is always an option allows you to challenge outdated methods and create a faster, cheaper and more effective replacement.
When you understand that failure is always an option, the fear of the unknown disappears and your creative juices flow without any restrictions. The way you think will be different and nothing can stop you; including failure!
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean you should become lazy and forget the hardwork and planning that is essential for success to happen.
There’s no short cut; you still have to do your homework!
But after you have fully prepared, you will have the courage to go ahead to take action because the fear of failure will be unable to stop you. In fact, as part of your planning, you may build a backup plan and some reserve capital to fall back on if you meet with failure.
Contrast this attitude with another that believes failure is not an option. When failure eventually happens (as it often does), there will be panic, confusion and anxiety because failure was not expected and was definitely not planned for.
7. Failure is temporary and homeless
For some reason I cannot understand, failure has refused to own a house or stay at any permanent address. He is a homeless and nomadic wise guy who pays visits from house to house to teach his painful but important lessons. 😀
In some homes, his visits may last a few hours. In some other places, he could spend a couple of days, weeks or months. Because he gets bored very easily, he can’t stay in the same place for long.
However, I have noticed that he spends more time and is more comfortable in the homes of people who refuse to learn his lessons. Once he’s sure the lesson is learned, he leaves.
Failure is a headache. It will hurt for a moment and then leave.
Understanding that your failures will not last forever gives you the courage and confidence to persevere.
Like night, it will always come and pass.
The key is to remain steadfast and consistent; to never give up and keep trying.
When failure is convinced that you have learned your lesson, it will leave you alone and then you will finally have the opportunity to experience results and success.
You would have heard tales of successful entrepreneurs who lost everything at a point in their lives. Their businesses crumbled or they lost a lot of money in an investment that went bad.
Sometimes, the news of their fall is so dramatic that we celebrate it in newspaper and magazine headlines.
But successful people know that failure’s visit will not last forever. They keep working hard and one day, they’re back at the top again. Of course the newspapers, magazines and spectators will celebrate the inspiring comeback story.
The next time you experience rough winds in your business, hold on tight and be patient. It’s only a matter of time before failure packs his bags and hits the road. He doesn’t like to keep other people waiting.
Are you still afraid to fail?
Were you afraid of dark rooms as a child? I definitely was.
Can you look back and try to remember the thoughts in your little head at that time? What would happen if you entered that dark room alone?
Zombies, witches and kidnappers would suddently appear and scare the life out of you, right?
Wow! I can’t believe I believed that! Now, I’m grown and I can only laugh at those thoughts.
Many years from today, you will sit in a rocking chair as a retired old man or woman. The thoughts that would torment you the most are those things you knew you could do but didn’t do, because you were afraid to fail.
If anything, this article shows that failure doesn’t mean the same thing to everybody. Changing your views and mindset about failure may be tough but it’s a good price to pay for your dreams.
Your future is in your hands. It’s up to you to decide.
Are there other things you should know about failure?
Do you have any thoughts, contributions based on your life experiences with failure? I would love to drink from your fountain of knowledge. Please share them with us in the Comments section below.
And if you found this article very useful, please share it using any of the Facebook, Twitter and Google+ buttons below. You never know, you could change somebody’s life today. 😉
To your success!