In life, like baseball, failure is inevitable. It’s not a matter of if, but when. Nobody likes to fail. But if we’re all honest, we understand that failure is a part of life. There is no growth and success without some amount of failure, just ask many great athletes. A great inventor like Thomas Edison experienced a lot of failures on the way to a successful invention. The best power hitters in baseball struck out much more often than they hit a home run. Coaches make wrong in game decisions or do a poor job at managing diverse personalities on the team. Scouts draft and sign players who they feel are certain can’t miss prospects, only to observe over time that they miserably failed at the professional level.
Anyone pursuing a goal of value will make mistakes, wrong choices or poor decisions. So the key is to expect failure, to prepare for it, to be ready turn it into a lesson and a stepping stone to success. However I believe there is such a thing as a successful failure. The following are some characteristics of a successful failure…
Optimism – Find the benefit in every bad experience: Recently, I read that Thomas Edison redefined the failures in his experiments as “10,000 ways that won’t work.” He expected failure and counted it as one of the costs of finding a way that would work. The same can be said about basketball great Michael Jordan – He said, “I have failed over and over and over in my life, and that is why I succeed.” By finding the benefit in the failure, these men were able to keep attempting something great. Optimism is not limited to a few people as a personality trait. Optimism is a choice. Yes, a choice. And while it doesn’t guarantee immediate positive results, it does result in higher motivation and stronger character.
Responsibility – Change your response to failure by accepting responsibility: When we fail at something, it’s easy to blame someone or something else. Perhaps the circumstances or the people that we worked with. But failure is a learning opportunity. If I blame someone else, I’m just cheating myself out of that lesson. Life is about lessons. Responsibility is more important than reputation. And it tends to lead to reward, which can lead to more responsibility. Your willingness to take responsibility and ownership marks you as someone who is mature and can be trusted to learn from the failure and keep trying.
Resilience – Say goodbye to yesterday: The ability to move on from your failure is key to continuing to attempt great things. Don’t move in and take up residence in your failure or mistake. The mind can only focus on so much, so if we’re still too focused on what we did wrong, we can’t give all of our attention to attempting to do what is right. Don’t live in the past. Move on. The mistake or failure you made is history. The key is to let it go and focus on what is ahead. There will always plenty of shallow people who love to “pile on” and point fingers at those who have failed. Sadly, they seem to forget quickly that they have failed many times in life as well. Stay focused on the future. Failure doesn’t mean you’re a failure – it just means that you haven’t succeeded yet.
Initiative – Take action and face your fear: When we make mistakes and then consider trying again, we all feel some measure of fear. It is perfectly normal. Facing the unknown, we easily come up with a list of things to worry about. But the act of worrying doesn’t help us at all in accomplishing our goals. For me, I am continually learning this lesson. Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength. Just believing that failure can be good isn’t enough to help us succeed. We need to act on that belief and take a step forward again in pursuit of our dream. Don’t quit. Don’t allow anyone to keep you from chasing your passion and dreams. Keep moving forward! Only then do we learn from our mistakes and make progress. Never perfection, but progress. Mistakes and failures are inevitable.
Albert Einstein said; “The definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Don’t be that person!!!
A successful failure is a failure that we respond to correctly by finding the good in it, taking responsibility for it, moving on from it, and taking proper action to change it.
I hope you and your family members have a great Easter weekend together!
Q: How do you respond to failure? Which of the above characteristics would you benefit from adopting?