5 Things My Failures in Life Have Taught Me
Take a look at some of the most successful and most inspiring people in the world. Apart from their success, you will notice that there is one other common thread that unites them. That thread is failure. Unfortunately, almost all of us have grown up believing that we must succeed in everything we do. We see failure as a loss. A stigma that has to be put behind us. Something that we should be ashamed about. That’s social conditioning for you and all of us…and at some point, become victims of this conditioning. However, over the course of my career trajectory, I’m happy to say that I’ve failed. Not once but, in fact, many times. And each failure has managed to teach me a very valuable lesson.
The thing is, failure is not bad. Not learning from failure is. Every time that we fail, there’s a lesson to be learned. There’s always a reason behind failure. And it is essential to fail to create something great. I have to quote Einstein to drive this point home. Einstein has said, “anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new”. There is no greater failure than that. If you want to be a part of something great, then you have to be prepared to fail. This is because failure is an intrinsic and an integral part of success. We all need to experience failure because as cliched as it may sound there is no better teacher than failure is. Here’s what my failures taught me
You are stronger than you think
We all feel that we have a breaking point. Things get tough. Things get rough. And when you feel that things could not be worse, they do get so. It’s only human to feel that this is where it all ends. But then you strive and soldier on.
Failure is one of the best personal trainers that you can get yourself. It pushes you to your limit. Only then do you realize that your limit is greater…higher than what you imagined it to be. Every time you fail…every time I’ve failed…every time I’ve hit that rock bottom, I’ve managed to come out of it more resilient. More prepared for the future. And definitely infinitely stronger than what I was previously.
Failure is often redirection in disguise
Failure is not always a reflection of your ability or your skills. It is definitely not a measure of what you are worth. Failure is often a messenger – a messenger, who tells you to course correct. I have noticed in my life that redirection often comes masked as a failure. It shows you where you should not be and gives you the opportunity to re-evaluate the decisions you might have taken. It is that red flag that tells you to examine the path that you’ve chosen. Upon viewing failure like this, I noticed that the burden associated with failure somehow lifted. With every failure, I got an opportunity to evaluate, revaluate…configure and reconfigure the decision paths that I had chosen. And in almost all cases I saw the elusive silver lining. My failures taught me what I should not be doing and gave me the opportunity to identify what I should be doing instead.
Failure is not the end of the road
Failure has such a negative connotation associated with it that it becomes easy to fall prey to dismay. Those who smile and thrive in the face of failure are branded as the ‘eternal optimists’…people who are few in number and almost mythical.
I realized my failures, no matter how crushing they were, offered me a new perspective. Every. Single. Time. Soon I realized that even when it seems like it is the end of the road, it actually is not. All you need to do is change the direction and give it another shot. It’s like the GPS navigation. You see one route is blocked with traffic and you take the other route instead.
Failure teaches you a lot more than success
Every time you fail, you learn. Every time you succeed, you revel in your success. So, who’s the better teacher?
Failure wins hands down when it comes to teaching and growth. It is like that teacher in school who enabled you, pushed you hard to come up with answers and compelled you to think. It is that teacher who would not spoon feed you an answer…who would not let you rest until you had achieved what was set out for you. Did you like that teacher when you were in school? In all likelihood, the answer will not be affirmative. But do you thank that teacher for helping you realize your potential, understanding your capabilities and opening up your mind to all that was possible? The answer has to be in the affirmative.
Failure, unlike success, does not give you a false sense of security. It tells you where you are lacking. It pushes you to identify your weaknesses. It helps you realize your strengths. Success alone cannot teach you that.
Failure helps you cultivate a positive outlook
There’s a famous quote from the movie Rocky – “Our greatest glory is not in falling, but in rising every time we fall”. Those who have failed and then risen from the ashes learn the value that failure brings to their lives. It is when you are at your lowest that you discover the reserves of inner strength. It is that strength that helps you understand that no matter how bad things are, they can be changed. I have realized that you do not fail when you do not succeed. You fail when you give up. When you let the negative thoughts in the mind overpower the positive ones. With every failure, I have learned how to silence those negative voices in my head and keep insecurities and fears associated with them at bay. I credit my positive attitude towards life and work to all the failures that I have experienced. By embracing failure have I learned what fearlessness is. Rabindranath Tagore said, “you cannot cross the sea, merely by standing and staring at the water”. Holds true in this case.
It is obvious that we cannot go through our lives without experiencing failure. We are all destined to fail at some time or the other. That is not in our control. But what we do with that failure, how we let it impact us and what we learn from it decides the path – towards dismay or towards success.