Updated: May 20, 2020
“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Denis Waitley
I wholeheartedly believe that in order to succeed, we must accomplish two things: (1) we must fail and (2) we need to learn how to embrace failure. Failure doesn’t mean you are incapable, weak and/or undeserving. Failure itself is just failure. It is inescapable. It is what you take away from failing that is important. At Fireside Insights we know how discouraging it is to fail. Whether it is that final exam you spent hours studying for, your brilliant startup idea or your career mobility, failing can discourage you and hurt your confidence. However, rather than viewing failure as a deterrent, you can and should take it as a learning opportunity. Here's why:
It is through failing that we learn our most valuable lessons. Failure is inevitable, but it is the best teacher you will ever have. I have lost count of how many times I have failed at things. I was extremely naïve when I started my pharmacology graduate program. I was a great student in undergrad, and going into grad school, I thought every experiment that I tried would work. Then, like a bad omen, experiments started failing- time after time, month after month. I thought something was wrong, that it had to be me. I just wasn’t working hard enough and so I needed to work harder. That turned into working seven days a week in the lab troubleshooting the same things, running western blots and various other tests. I spent six months working tireless and had no results to show for it. It all didn’t make sense and honestly I was fed up. Then, just as I was giving up, experiments began to work again. Why couldn’t it all have worked six months earlier? I do not know. What I do know is that as frustrating as those six months were, I learned a whole lot. I learned how to ask important questions. I learned how to think more critically, and I mastered the experimental technique at hand. But most importantly, for each experiment not working, I could immediately think of seven reasons why and countless alternatives to try.
Failing builds character. What happens when we fail? We feel overwhelmed, worthless and insecure. As a result, our self-esteem slowly starts to deteriorate. Being that failure is unavoidable, we really must learn how to accept things that we deem as “failure” when they do happen. Overcoming such adversity will set you apart from your peers and provide you with many great qualities that are essential to thrive. You will become more knowledgeable, stronger, determined, resourceful and resilient!
Failure is the ultimate key to success. Many times we do not accomplish our goals because we see failure as an obstacle too big to overcome. Thus, we either settle or give up on our dreams. If you research many of your favorite entrepreneurs, scientists, or actors, you will see that the pathway to success was not an easy road for many of them. Like all of us they failed, but unlike so many they didn’t let it deter them. Failure is critical to success. It teaches you ways to succeed and pushes you to be the best that you can be. Hence, the earlier you embrace it and not see it as defeat, the more sound your journey towards success will be.
I'll end on this note: it is not failure that kills our dreams, but rather how we respond to it that stops us from achieving our goals. It is your response to failure that sets you apart from the rest and it ultimately determines how far you will go. So if you are failing at anything at the moment, do not see it as a dead end. Go back to the drawing board, learn from your past attempt, put back your favorite thinking hat and take a second go at it again.
Written by Amanda Amoh