Blog :

Redefining Failure

Aug 30, 2023
Redefining Failure

Fear of failure is said to be one of the greatest barriers to success. It makes total sense - given that our fear of failure is what stops us from making attempts in the first place! 

If you’re someone who has a fear of failure, you aren’t alone. Whether it’s going for that new job, or asking someone out for a first date - failing at something doesn’t necessarily make us feel great. However, redefining failure and how it makes us feel can enable us to feel a sense of freedom as well as take control of our lives!

From the first moment we’re born, we begin hearing phrases such as “be careful” and “watch out” which relay a message in our head that the world is a dangerous place that we may not be able to navigate. That doesn’t take away from the need to be cautious in some situations, but if we spend our lives wanting to stay wrapped in cotton wool, we’re never going to progress further. 

All of us will fail at some point in our life

Whether it’s an exam, a relationship, a friendship, a promotion, getting ‘that’ job, or even burning our dinner - all of this can constitute as some kind of failure. It isn’t a bad thing, it’s just life. 

In fact - multiple failures are probably better than you’d think

Have you ever heard the story of Colonel Sanders? (yes, that’s the hero behind KFC!) - he was rejected (AKA failed) an estimated 1009 times before his chicken was accepted. He struggled to hold down jobs during his 20s and 30s, and it was only until he was 62 that he started to see success with KFC. 

From selling chicken at his roadside restaurant in Kentucky to now being one of the biggest fast food brands in the world, the Colonel himself had to go through a lot of rejection and failure to get there. 

The same goes for Elon Musk, who has failed so many times that it’s actually outweighed his successes. The number of setbacks he had never stopped him, though - making him one of the world's richest and most successful people. 

So, what can we learn from this? Multiple failures are expected. In fact, it would be a bit weird if you’d only failed at something once in your life. 

How can you start to redefine what failure is to you?

The first thing you need to do is focus on how you feel when you fail - what emotional response surfaces for you? If it’s shame, fear, sadness, or anything similar to this - it’s time to reframe the emotions and how you can turn these negatives into positives.

To start to work with failure as a friend rather than a foe, you should try and practice acceptance of your emotions and see the failure as a learning rather than something to be ashamed of. It’s completely OK to feel sad or disappointed when you don’t achieve something, but instead of stewing in that emotion and letting it linger - give yourself a time frame to process it and then think of the best solution. 

Remember that everything does happen for a reason

You don’t necessarily have to be a spiritual person to have this view - but starting to accept that things do happen for a reason and relinquishing trying to control everything can bring you a lot of inner peace. Trust that you’re doing your best and that you’re on the best path for you! 

And finally, everybody fails…

And if all of the above fails (pardon the irony here) - try and take a step back and look at the bigger picture; we all fail. The person standing next to you has failed a thousand times and the person sitting opposite you on the train has too.

Failure is normal, and only you can change your view and concept of it. 

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