Four Lessons from Failure

Failure is not a fun thing. In fact, it truly sucks. Whether it is failure at a personal goal, failure in your family, failure at your job, or failure in a startup endeavor. We all face failure. If you are not enduring failure then only two circumstances can be true: (1) you have not taken a single risk in your life (i.e. you have never gone on a date, worked for a boss, attended a school, or even made an attempt to get out of bed in the morning); or (2) you are delusional. Failure is a fact of life that we face from time to time. 

The interesting thing about failure is that it molds our character and develops who we are as individuals. Did you catch that? I did not say failure makes you stronger or that it develops your character positively. Your reaction to failure and how you handle the circumstance determines whether failure plays a positive or negative role in your life. Failure can, in fact, make you stronger and more resilient. But it can also make you weak, depressed, and lead to further failures. How you handle failure is key and will determine the person that you become. Here are four lessons that I have learned from failure:

1.     Not all failure is good. If you failed your kids, spouse or close friends then a problem exists. I consider this bad failure. It should never have happened and requires extensive internal self-evaluation. In my experience, bad failure is the most monumental. It is difficult to handle and requires great personal commitment to overcome. However, overcoming this failure is by far the most rewarding.

2.     Failure develops character. Like I said before, this could be good or bad character. A negative reaction to failure can quickly lead to negative character development. Failure will develop your character in some shape or fashion. It is up to you to decide whether you want to become a better person. This requires a deliberate decision partnered with purposeful action.

3.     Failure is necessary. It is easy to think that we should attempt to avoid failure at all costs. This is false! This certainly does not mean that we should seek failure but it does mean we should take risks. 

4.     Take risks. TAKE. A. RISK. And then take more risks. Progress in society occurs when we decide to take risks. Start a non-profit. Develop a new business idea. Learn a new trade.  Do not be afraid of risks because of the inevitable failure. Be confident in your risk taking and remember that it is OK to fail – just make sure that your failure leads to positive character development and greater personal strength.