How to Respond to Failure
By Roger Crawford. This was originally published on Roger's blog.
No one likes to fail. Life, however, is filled with unexpected setbacks. Let’s face it: Failure is irritating and often inescapable, but it can also help us become our very best.
Here’s what J.K. Rowling, author of Harry Potter, says about failure:
“Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.”
What really matters is how you choose to respond to failure. Are you going to place blame, make excuses, and give up? Or are you going to react positively, regain your determination, and rise up? You can’t always control your circumstances, but you can control your attitude — and the way you think controls your life.
Here are a several ideas that’ll help you bounce back from failure and be even better than ever.
See failure as a way to fine-tune
Failure provides life’s greatest lessons. That can be even more beneficial than the wisdom you gain with success. Choose to see setbacks and challenges as powerful learning opportunities to do more and be more. Every time you experience failure, it can help you develop a new approach that moves you closer to getting the results you want.
Failing gives you an opportunity to fine-tune your strategy and tweak your tactics, and that will help you improve future performance. A temporary setback can provide the motivation needed to dig deep, discover new talents, abilities, and grit! Look at failure from this perspective: It’s not a loss, but a launching pad to your next awesome opportunity.
Develop grit to realize your potential
Can you remember a time when you felt like giving up but chose to gut it out instead? Psychologist Angela Duckworth calls this grit and says grit is the inner strength needed to achieve your long-term goals. In fact, her research found that grit is more important than talent or intelligence in predicting success.
So how do we maximize our grit? The good news is that you can increase it. You can begin to do this the same way you improve as an athlete: through determination and a never-quit mindset.
Think of your grit as a muscle that needs exercise to grow and develop. When we consistently push ourselves to reach higher, our capacity to persevere increases. Dr. Duckworth calls this deliberate practice. That means sticking with it when you feel like it, and sticking with it when you don’t.
So, the next time you successfully navigate a challenging situation through your own grit, look at it from this perspective: You are a grittier and different person now. You have gained mental toughness and hard-won wisdom. You didn’t bounce back to where you were in the past. Instead, you bounced forward, closer to where you want to be in the future.
Remember the why
When you have a setback, remember why you want to accomplish your goal. Reflecting on the why strengthens your resolve and eases the discomfort of failure. During my coaching sessions, I tell my clients to make their dreams so compelling they can crush any obstacles that get in the way.
It is easier to uncover and maintain grit when you are pursuing something that you are passionate about. An emotional attachment is more important than an intellectual one. Setting goals for something to which you are only intellectually committed can be difficult to follow through on.
Researchers have found, however, that when you identify your purpose in life, your commitment will be emotional rather than intellectual. It follows that when you are excited about doing something, your motivation is stronger, and you achieve better results.
If your why is not clear, finding the inspiration to bounce back from failure can be challenging. When you are crystal clear about your why, it gives you focus and direction. Without this clarity, you have less invested in the outcome. This lack of commitment makes it more difficult to find the courage to bounce back.
The enemy of success is not failure; it’s giving upGranted, failure can hurt, but don’t use that as an excuse to quit. When you look at the lives of successful people, what do they all have in common? They refused to give up no matter how many times they failed!
You have two choices when you fail: to give up or try again. The setbacks you face are the foundation on which to build your success. Failure does not mean you’re a failure; it means you didn’t succeed this time. When you throw in the towel, you’re saying failure is final, but think again! This could be the first step in discovering your greatness.
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