“There are no failures. There is only experience,” says Robert Allen, a leading expert in business, finance, and motivation and the author of several best-selling books.
Once you learn to look at failures from the right angle, they will be an excellent teacher for you. Think about it: failure gives us an opportunity to shake things up and look around for new solutions.
Canadian and American psychologist Albert Bandura conducted a study that showed how big a role our attitude towards failure plays. In the course of the study, two groups of people were asked to perform the same managerial task. The first group was told that the purpose of this task was to assess their managerial abilities. The other group was told that it would take really advanced skills to complete this task, and so it was just an opportunity for them to practice and improve their abilities. The trick was that the proposed task was initially impossibly difficult and all participants had to fail – which happened. When the groups were asked to try the task again, the participants in the first group did not improve much, because they felt like failures due to the fact that their skills were not enough. The second group, however, who viewed failure as a learning opportunity, were able to complete the task with much greater success than the first time. The second group even rated themselves as more confident than the first.
Like the participants in Bandura’s study, we may look at our failures differently: as a reflection of our abilities or as opportunities for growth. The next time you find yourself wallowing in the self-pity that often accompanies failure, focus on taking control of how you feel about it. The best lessons in life are often also the most difficult—they challenge our ability to adapt and our willingness to learn.
The first step is always the hardest. When you set yourself some serious goal, the first step towards it will inevitably seem difficult and even intimidating. But when you dare to take that first step, anxiety and fear dissipate by themselves. People who set out with determination to achieve their goals are not necessarily stronger and more confident than those around them – they just know that the result will be worth it. They know that it is always hard at first and that delay only prolongs unnecessary suffering.
Good things don’t happen all at once, and success takes time and effort. According to Canadian journalist and pop sociologist Malcolm Gladwell, mastering anything requires 10000 hours of relentless attention! And many successful people agree with that. Think of Henry Ford: before he founded Ford at the age of 45, two of his car ventures failed. And the writer Harry Bernstein, who devoted his whole life to his hobby, wrote his bestseller only at the age of 96! When you finally achieve success, you come to the realization that the path to it was the best part of it.
It is important to understand that being busy does not necessarily mean being productive. Look at the people around you: they all seem so busy, running from one meeting to another, sending emails all day long. But how many of them are truly successful? The key to success is not only movement and activity, but rather focus on goals and efficient use of time. All people are given the same 24 hours in a day, so use this time wisely. Make sure your efforts are focused on tasks that will pay off.
It is impossible to achieve an ideal level of self-organization and self-control. As much as we would like it, but all too often there are all sorts of obstacles and complicating circumstances along the way. However, it is quite possible to control your reaction to events that occur independently of you. It is your reaction that turns the mistake into a necessary experience. As they say, you cannot win every battle, but with the right approach, you can win the war.
You are no worse than the people around you. Strive to surround yourself with people who inspire you, who make you want to be better. You may already be doing this – but what about the people who are dragging you down? Are there any around you, and if so, why do you allow them to be a part of your life? Anyone who makes you feel unwanted, anxious, or dissatisfied is only wasting your time and probably preventing you from progressing. But life is too short to waste time on such people. Therefore, let them go.
The most serious of possible obstacles is in your head. Almost all of our problems arise from the fact that we constantly travel through time with our thoughts: we return to the past and regret what we did, or we try to look into the future and worry about events that have not even happened yet. It is very easy to get lost and wallow in regrets about the past or worries about the future, and when this happens, we lose sight of, in fact, the only thing we can control is our present.
Your self-esteem must originate within you. When you get a sense of pleasure and satisfaction by comparing yourself to others, you are no longer the master of your own destiny. If you’re happy with yourself, don’t let someone else’s opinions and accomplishments take that feeling away from you. Of course, it is quite difficult to stop reacting to what others think about you, but do not try to compare yourself with others, and try to perceive third-party opinion with a grain of salt. This will help you soberly assess yourself and your strengths.
Not everyone around you will support you. In fact, most people probably won’t. On the contrary, some will throw out negativity, passive aggression, anger or envy at you. But none of this should be an obstacle to you, because, as Dr. Seuss, the famous American writer and cartoonist, said: “Those who matter will not condemn, and those who condemn will not matter.” It’s impossible to get support from everyone, and there’s no need to waste your time and energy trying to gain acceptance from people who have something against you.
Perfection doesn’t exist. Don’t be fooled into making perfection your goal, because it’s simply impossible to achieve. Humans are inherently error prone. When perfection is your goal, you are always haunted by an unpleasant feeling of failure that makes you give up and put in less effort. You end up wasting time worrying about what you failed to do instead of moving forward with a sense of elation about what you have achieved and what you can still achieve in the future.
Fear breeds regret. Believe me: you will worry more about missed chances than because of mistakes made. Don’t be afraid to take risks! You can often hear people say: “What is so terrible that can happen? It won’t kill you!” Only death, if you think about it, is not always the worst thing. It’s scarier to let yourself die inside while you’re still alive.
Summing up …
We can conclude that successful people never stop learning. They learn from their mistakes, learn from their victories, and constantly change for the better.
So, what hard lesson helped you take a step towards success today?