When we’re faced with failure, it’s common to be hard on ourselves. No, it doesn’t feel good to fail. But some of the best lessons are ones that don’t feel great in the moment. They leave a lasting impact on our memory and cause our future selves to second–guess the action that led to the lesson. After all, when you fell off your bike as a kid and scraped your knee, you learned one thing not to do while riding. Sure, you may have fallen a few more times after that, but you probably didn’t ride the way you did before your first crash. You most likely adjusted your balance, position, speed, and eventually learned how to ride the bike.
This same scenario can be applied to life and business. When you fail for the first time, you’re either discouraged and quit, or a fire is lit inside you, and you’re determined to get it right. You make adjustments and keep trying until you find the path of least resistance, which ultimately leads to your success.
Adopt the "Win or Learn" mentality.
“I never lose. I either win or I learn.” – Nelson Mandela
Many of us learn the “win or lose” mentality at a young age, making it hard to shift to a “win or learn” mindset as adults. When you treat failure as a learning experience, you’re less likely to lose confidence and be afraid of trying again. Looking at failure through the lens of a lesson allows you to analyze each part of your mistake(s) closely and be objective in your analysis.
Look at your failure from the perspective of an observer, not from the perspective of the person who failed. Break your mistake(s) down into sections and find what was the major culprit for your struggle. Think of it as a weak point in the structure of a building. How will you reinforce or redesign that framework to better support your success? Remember, if your approach didn’t work the first time, it probably won’t work the next time.
An important part of recovering from a setback is maintaining your momentum. If you allow yourself to stay still for too long, ruminating on what you did wrong, resuming your work will be more difficult.
To sustain momentum, keep working and learning. Find activities that motivate you and use this time to reflect and seek advice. Consult with your support network and team to find out where you can improve, and what you’ve done right in the past.
After a slip-up, spend time redefining your end goal. Think about why you’re exposing yourself to failure, and why it’s always valuable. Has this mistake caused you to reconsider your end goal? If so, how will that affect your next moves? Remind yourself that your missteps help you become a better version of yourself. Continue to chase situations that motivate you, encourage growth, and cause you to think, “Yes, that is why I’m doing this.”
Focus on yourself.
Sometimes miscalculations are caused by a lack of vision and focus. Maybe you lost sight of the reasons why you put yourself in uncomfortable situations and let them get the best of you. Or perhaps you found yourself focusing on the happiness and goals of others, instead of your own. Whatever the case, it’s time to recenter and establish your plan of action.
Decide what you want to gain from this blunder. What are your takeaways from the experience? Imagine how you can apply these lessons to your life, personally and professionally. Envision your next approach and what it might look like to meet it with success, rather than failure. When a martial artist strikes an opponent, they imagine the impact going through, not stopping upon connection. Think of your next attempt at success as a strike to failure—go right through it.
Finally, realign your focus with your happiness and your dreams. Don’t let others interfere with that vision. If they tell you what you should do but it doesn’t align with your values and goals, tell them what you will do. At the end of the day, you want to sleep well, knowing that you did everything in your power to reach your goals. Otherwise, you’ll regret not trying. Even if you fail again, at least you’ll know that you put your best self forward and just need improvement, which is a good goal in itself.