Make Failure your friend

Failing forward is the only way to take advantage of new opportunities for success. And the great thing is, anyone can learn to fail forward…


  1. Don’t take all the blame for the failure

No one fails simply because he/she isn’t ‘good enough’. Fight the urge to assume all the blame.

Instead, think through all the reasons for the failure, and put your own role in proper perspective.

People who overcome failure tend to be those who don’t take it personally. They don’t see themselves as failures.

They see themselves as people who have failed.

There’s a difference.

When working with clients, I always point out that every success we enjoy is accomplished with the help of others.

Then I ask if we must share credit for our successes with others, why carry the whole burden of failure on our shoulders?

Although you shouldn’t take all the blame, don’t let yourself off the hook too easily either. Always ask yourself what you might have done to increase the likelihood of success.


  1. Take action to reduce your fear

Once it is clear that you have failed at something, you may be reluctant to act until you can convince yourself that all possibility of failing again has been eliminated.

But it’s impossible to remove all possibility of failure…so you wind up in a state of paralysis.

To free yourself to take action, accept the real possibility that you will fail again…but also acknowledge that each failure offers a new chance to learn and move ahead.


  1. View failure as something that happened in the past

Recognise every day as a new day, with new opportunities.

A sign in my office reads, ‘Yesterday ended last night.’ When I come to work after a bad day, I look at the sign just to remind myself.

It always makes me feel better.


  1. Change yourself, and your world changes

If you keep failing in the same area, it is likely that the problem lies with you…and not with the situation in which you find yourself.

Do you need to improve your skills? Did you pick the right people with whom to work?

Only by understanding your role in the failure…and knowing what you must do differently next time, can you profit from the experience.

If you’re unable to answer these questions on your own, seek help. People who first failed but later succeeded at a similar task are well-positioned to spot what you did wrong…and to help you change to minimize your risk of failing again.

Keep in mind: It’s not what happens to you that makes the difference. It is what happens in you.


  1. When you succeed, look for even greater challenges

If you don’t fail at least occasionally, you’re not stretching yourself. You’re avoiding failure by staying in the same, safe spot.

Once you stop challenging yourself, you cease to grow.

When a client claims to be successful in all the things he/she has been doing, I ask, are you doing anything new or different? The answer to this question is almost always: No.

Just as you shouldn’t let failure grind you down, don’t let success lull you into complacency. Don’t let a string of successes convince you that you have somehow arrived. No one ever really arrives. The best we can hope for is to maintain a state of personal growth.


  1. Understand just how small the difference between success and failure really is

It is human nature to perceive the gap between success and failure as gigantic. When we fail, we often think that we are miles from success…just as we believe that when we succeed, we are miles from failure.

What is the reality? The gap between success and failure is seldom very wide.

To become as successful as you would like, consider the possibility that all you must do is slightly increase your ratio of success to failure.

If your success ratio is 50% right now, increasing it to 60% would likely make an enormous difference in your life, wouldn’t it?

Make a concerted effort to learn from each failure, and you’ll soon find yourself doing more of what you do when you succeed…and less of what you do when you fail.

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