You Must Fail to Succeed

You’ve probably heard numerous quotes about success and failure such as these:

  1. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” -Thomas Edison
  2. “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” -Winston S. Churchill
  3. “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” -Winston S. Churchill
  4. “The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same.” -Colin R. Davis
  5. “Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.” -Truman Capote

When many of us fail at something, the positivity of these quotes is not what we typically experience. We are instead consumed with stress, disappointment and negative thoughts about ourselves. However, just like the above quotes suggest, we must first fail in order to succeed.

How to Stop Avoiding Failure

Certified Life Coach Pam Bauer explains that we are taught from a young age that failure is the opposite of success, especially in a school setting. This has created a lifelong fear of failure for most people. We associate negative emotions such as disappointment, embarrassment, worthlessness and many more with failure, so we try to avoid it at all costs. However, this fear of failure is what keeps people from achieving their dreams. So, what do you do about it?

Luckily, Bauer points out that the solution is rather simple. Failure itself is not what causes all of our negative emotions, it is our own thinking. We are responsible for how we handle failure. She states, “You determine what your experience of failure will be by how you think about it.” The trick is to remember the simple definition of what failure actually is: not meeting a desired or intended objective; something didn’t turn out the way we expected. Broken down like that, failure doesn’t sound that bad. You just have to remind yourself that you learned something new, and then move on and try again.

The Benefits of Failure

While we may not realize it in the moment, failure is actually good for each and everyone one of us. Listed below are just a few benefits of experiencing failure: 

  1. It Teaches You Important Life Skills: Bauer states that “Failure is a skill to develop. If you’re good at falling down and getting back up, you’ll be confident going into new situations because you know you’ll be OK no matter what happens.” This not only makes you more adaptable, but it also allows you to live with lower stress levels.
  2. You Actually Learn More: As it turns out, a wealth of scientific research suggests that mistakes make us smarter. One pair of studies that were published in the Journal of Applied Psychology discovered that discussing and reflecting on our failures actually results in a higher rate of learning.
  3. It Inspires and Motivates You to Succeed: Psych Central explains that the whole purpose of failure is to inspire and motivate you to do something different to make your dream happen. Our minds go through a 4 step process after failure that includes, finding a lesson, deciding to say no to mediocracy, vowing to be brave, and then redefining our goals so that we can try again.
  4. It Is Humbling: Experiencing failure keeps us humble and appreciative. It teaches us all to view success as a true achievement that took hard work and sacrifice, and not something that just comes easily. This is especially important when it comes to leaders, as humble leaders are more relatable and more encouraging.
  5. It Teaches Empathy: Believe it or not, but failure boosts your compassion and ability to empathize with others. Everyone has failed at something at some point in their life, which gives us something to relate to. It also gives us more understanding and the ability to help others get back up and continue to strive for success.

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