Failure As A Key To Success

I quit!

I can’t get it right!

What’s the use?

I can’t get ahead!

What now?

It’s funny, failure is one of those words that will instantly conjure up various images in someone’s mind that are mostly negative. However, failure is a key and very necessary building block towards a successful outcome. The problem is not with failure itself, but how we look at failure.

We often look at failure as an endpoint. That is, once we fail, we think there is nothing else for us to do and we cannot go any further. However, by changing your perspective and recognizing that failure is not a brick wall that needs to stop you in your tracks, you can begin to use failure as a tool to help you attain success and reach your goals.

Interestingly enough, we have minor failures every day but we do not think of these because they are minor. We may not be paying attention and cut someone off in traffic or forget the name of a co-worker we are introducing to a friend. The failures we usually think about are the ones we have tied to a particular goal. These goals may be things such as relationships, weight loss, or career related.

For instance, I don’t think there is a thing such as a failed relationship. I think a better term would be a learning relationship. Why? It is because you learned something about someone or yourself that caused the relationship to end for whatever reason. So you did not fail, you learned some insight into what you either wanted or did not want.

With weight loss, many people consider themselves a failure if they are not able to reach a specific weight loss goal. When they fail to reach their target they consider themselves a failure. Again, this is not a failure because you have learned that if you eat more calories than you burn, you will not lose weight. You learn there is a certain amount of motivation required to sustain a successful weight loss journey. You learn what types of foods that will help you be successful. You learn the behaviors that will cause you to stumble.

You see, it’s all about your perspective. Failure has a strong negative connotation with it while learning has a positive one. This faulty perspective can wreak havoc on your self-esteem if you constantly view yourself as failing.

When we look at Bill Gates, do we say he failed multiple times prior to getting it right with Microsoft or do you look at him and say Bill Gates learned a lot about software development along the way. It’s all about your perspective – Bill Gates failed but he learned from his mistakes. He did not dwell on them or let them stop him like a brick wall. Instead, he constantly refined his products and thinking along the way in order to build Microsoft. Steve Jobs did the same thing at Apple.

In a more personal example, Sometimes I fail as a parent by saying the wrong thing or do the wrong thing. Rather than sit and mope about the mistakes I made and consider myself a bad parent who failed, I move on and apply the lesson I learned towards the next time I get in a similar situation.

Here are some questions to help you change your perspective on failure - Ask yourself these questions and be honest with yourself as you perform this self-reflection exercise:

  • When do I see myself as a failure?

  • Why do I feel this way?

  • What lesson can I pull from this situation?

  • How can I prevent it from happening again?

As you start to change your perspective on failure from a negative one to a positive one, you will start to see the many opportunities around you that were once thought of as insurmountable obstacles. You stop quitting in your mind before you even try. This one little switch in thinking can change your whole life.

Have a great week!

Nurse Parker


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