One of my weaknesses is that I need constant success in anything I put my hand to and get discouraged quickly by failures. Translation: I give up easily. Recently I’ve been very frustrated because a number of things I’m dealing with are either going south or are just plodding around.
Successful people fail
Since I was feeling particularly blue this weekend, I decided to drown my sorrows in a Double Chocolate Chip Frappuccino in a Barnes and Noble nearby. While waiting for the Barista to brew my drink, I picked up a book that the previous patron had left on a table nearby. I don’t even remember the title of the book but the page I opened spoke about how Edison tried the proverbial 99 times to get the light bulb right.
We often think of successful people as someone gifted, who has never failed and is a genius in their field. But the truth is they have failed a lot too, the only difference is they didn’t quit. They learned from their mistakes. That got me thinking. Throughout my life I have had my own share of successes and failures. When I think about all my successes, the only common denominator is not knowledge, not some special skill, it’s perseverance.
My own success and failures
In school, for example, I would never speak up even if I know the answer because I was so afraid of saying something slightly incorrect and then being ridiculed. This fear followed me into adulthood and along the way I missed a lot of opportunities simply because I wasn’t willing to speak in public. It’s only after I got to grad school that I started asking/answering in front of everyone. I might have asked stupid questions, but I learned a lot that I otherwise wouldn’t have.
How many of us thought we had a brilliant business idea but never bothered to develop it? Either because we thought it would fail or we are afraid of others thinking it was a dumb idea. I know I have. Then it comes as a crushing blow when you see someone else, a short while later, come out with a very similar idea and make money off it. How many times have we really wanted to ask for a raise or a promotion but let fear overrule us? The fear of failure keeps us from trying and seals our failure.
When I first thought of blogging, I was petrified. What if it failed? What if someone I know found out about it and thought it was stupid?
My husband encouraged me and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome today. I am glad I listened to him. It helps to have friends and family that can push you over the fear hurdle. I have made a ton of mistakes and have learned things that I never would have otherwise. It is useful not only for my blog but in many other facets of my life.
How to convert failure to success
Small or big, every success I have had so far was because I was able to overcome my fear of failure, because I was able to learn from my mistakes. I have still not mastered this art, but I am improving slowly.
I hope that encourages you to spread your wings a little. Here are 5 steps that I have found useful in learning from my mistakes and growing stronger as a result:
- Apologize: If you have hurt someone, or caused any loss to someone else, first apologize.
- Accept: We are not perfect and only with practice and making mistakes can we come close.
- Don’t Justify : The more we justify our mistakes the less we learn from them. An excuse is the worst enemy to success.
- Understand: Why did you make that mistake? How could it have been avoided?
- Don’t repeat: What can you learn from this and how can you prevent this from happening?
We wouldn’t be walking now if we didn’t fail by falling at least a few times. Somewhere in the hurry to grow up, we have forgotten this. If we see failures as stepping stones and mistakes as learning opportunities we can be much more successful.