I fail in life far more often than I care to admit. Maybe it’s my perfectionist tendencies or just the high bar that I set for myself. Regardless, failure has been and continues to be a regular part of my life. I miss deadlines. I disappoint people. I forget important things. I spell words wrong when I’m typing.
I would imagine that you’ve experienced failure at least once before. Right? Please make me feel somewhat normal here …
Over the years, I’ve been around others as they’ve failed. And some do it well … and some not so well. Let me be honest—sometimes I do it well and sometimes I don’t. But, I believe there’s a five-step process to go through in order to fail “well.” Here are the five steps:
Step one—Have the right attitude about it.
When you fail, don’t overreact. Don’t treat your failure like it’s the end of the world … or even the end of anything. Often mistakes and failures are built up in our minds to be larger than they really are. When we fail, it’s a great time to choose the right attitude. Understanding, before the failure happens, that failing is a part of life is key. We all make mistakes and none of us is perfect—that includes you! So, when you fail, be sure to have the right attitude about it.
Step two—Ask for forgiveness quickly.
Asking for forgiveness requires us to admit that we’ve made a mistake—and that’s the tough part here. But we have to own it. We certainly own our wins, and, in the same way, we should also own our losses. Own it and ask for forgiveness. Leaders/bosses/managers are often more able to forgive when you’re proactive at sharing the mistake rather than trying to hide it and then asking for forgiveness when you’ve been “found out.”
Step three—Learn something from it.
This is the one that most people have at least heard of before. Learning from failure is key to the growth process … and it’s never been truer than it is today. When you fail, it should be your habit to think about what happened and ask yourself specific questions. Questions like: What could I have done differently? What information or knowledge or skill was I missing that led to the mistake/failure? What will I change in order to decrease the likelihood of this same mistake happening again?
Step four—Forget about it.
It’s all too easy to obsess over our mistakes and failures. Forgetting about the mistake does not mean that you completely forget about it—but rather it means that you don’t allow it to occupy your mind very long or dictate how you feel about yourself or your work. Forgetting about failure will help you to maintain your confidence and continue to do what you do with excellence. When we get caught up in feeling sorry for ourselves or beating ourselves up, it can paralyze us from future action.
Step five—Try again.
Get back in the saddle and get back to work! Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Don’t begin to think that you’re not suited for the position you’re in. Rather, move forward and do something. By moving on to something else, it will help you have a short-term memory as it relates to you mistakes and failures. And when you try again and succeed, your confidence is increased and you are better able to minimize the impact of that one mistake.
What is your reaction to failures Do you use any or all of these steps already? Which is easiest for you and which is hardest? Let me know in the comments below …