Failure in our society is highly stigmatized. We don’t want to share our failures; we want to laud our successes. Yet, what is not well understood is that success is built on failure. You’re walking upright, yes? When you fell on your first attempt to walk, you didn’t cry out in defeat and decide that walking is not for you. You tried again and again until you were successful.
When failure stops us, it’s usually the story we create around “failure.” We tell ourselves, “I’m not good at this,” “I suck,” and “Why even try,” and our inner critic builds a list of reasons to quit. A more empowering approach to “failure” is not to label it as such but to see it as a result that fell short of your expectations. No emotional baggage, just an outcome that did not work out.
In order to leverage the most from our failures, we can examine them from four perspectives;
- Acknowledge – Admit that you are off the mark and need to make some necessary adjustments. If damage resulted from the mistake, fix it before moving forward.
- Analyze – Look into the results that didn’t go well and evaluate what went right. Soliciting feedback is always a good idea to gain multiple perspectives on the issue.
- Adjust – Revise your plan of action, incorporating the successful elements from the past and the insights gained from the feedback.
- Apply – Take corrective action as soon as it is feasible to move forward.
If you follow these four steps when you create an undesired outcome (Fail), your success will rise upon the rubble of past mistakes.