Failure is an important part of the learning process. Often times the best learning experiences in life come from our own mistakes and failures. We can read all we want and learn from other people’s mistakes, but sometimes to truly learn something important we have to be willing to fail on our own.
Six Important Things to Know About Failure
John Maxwell’s Book The Winning Attitude provides us with six things that everybody should know about failure. The bolded points below are his, the commentary is mine!
- The man who never made a mistake never made anything.
Failure is a fact of life and no matter what we do there will be specific things that we try and do not succeed at. Anybody who has never failed has only done so because they have never really tried to accomplish anything at all. Just as part of investing is being willing to take some kind of risk, part of success is being willing to risk failure.
- Failures are fingerprints on the road to achievement.
Anyone who looks back on their life, regardless of age, should be able to pinpoint specific failures along the way. But instead of just seeing failures in their past successful people will see the results of those failures. In looking back we should all see our past failures as the starting point of our next great success. That success often stems from a new attitude, determination, mindset, or understanding that resulted from the failure and allowed us to move on to the next area of success. If we understand failures are fingerprints to achievement, then we realize that they are a part of the path taken and often have been necessary for what we have achieved.
- It is impossible to succeed without suffering.
Most people don’t want to suffer. No doubt suffering is never enjoyable but those that are completely unwilling to suffer never really find true happiness (or success). In fact, how would we know what happiness is if we had no reference to compare it to? How could we truly feel successful if there wasn’t suffering to provide us as a reference? Suffering builds character and character propels us to success.
- Attitude is the determining factor whether our failures make or break us.
I remember once in college I got into a water fight with a girlfriend. At the end of the water fight she got mad and complained”why do you always have to win?” It was a silly question to me because the only reason I “won” is because she declared it and in doing so declared herself the loser at the same time. Our attitude determines if this set back or the next (or the next) will be our last. Truly successful people have no “final” failure that stops them. They learn from their mistakes and keep going until they get it right. Your attitude will determine whether you quit or fight.
- To accept failure as final is to be finally a failure.
The moment that we let any particular failure stop us then we truly are a failure. If we fail and keep going then we have simply failed at that, but we continue on until we succeed. True failure only comes when we declare ourselves as such.
- [Accepting] failure is the line of least persistence.
Failure is easy. Anybody can fail and quit. In fact, that’s what most people do. But success comes from failing and then getting up to keep going. To do that it takes persistence, determination, and a willingness to succeed despite setbacks. Success requires persistence. Accepting failure does not.
How to Turn Failure Into Success
In his book How to Turn Failure Into Success, author Harold Sherman gives a Code of Persistence:
- I will never give up so long as I know I am right.
- I will believe that all things will work our for me if I hang on until the end.
- I will be courageous and undismayed in the face of odds.
- I will not permit anyone to intimidate me or deter me from my goals.
- I will fight to overcome all physical handicaps and set-backs.
- I will try again and again and yet again to accomplish what I desire
- I will take new faith and resolution from the knowledge that all successful men and women have had to fight defeat and adversity.
- I will never surrender to disagreement or despair no matter what seeming obstacles may confront me.