Being challenged in life is key to being better at anything that we set out to do. Too often we clam up once we’re told that we aren’t needed or we feel others don’t see the value in us. It is easy for us to get upset, get quiet, and hold a grudge towards the person that got the call over us. We’ve failed in our failure.
I am a big fan of failure. I believe that we are meant to fail. It is through failing that we find greater success in life. I’m not going to tell you that it is easy to overcome failure, but the work is what makes it great. As we fail we learn to fight. We learn to overcome life’s challenges. We learn to see problems and better solve them. We learn to succeed. How many problems have you been able to solve because you failed first?
I have had the joy to succeed at many things that I have done. I have seen success come my way more times than I probably deserve. However, these successes have not come without effort or work. I have failed many times in life, in my physical efforts, spiritually, as a parent, and in business. Each of these failures has taught me various things about myself and about how to better tackle challenges the next time. One of my hardest failures to overcome tends to be my attitude. Often times I feel skipped over for a position, a skill set, a meeting, or a project. Instead of working through it and looking at how I can win the opportunity next time I tend to choose to push blame or complain about how I was unjustly dealt with. I fight these demons within me. I let rejection and failure get me down in these instances. Dealing with rejection is one of life’s great challenges. How do you respond when rejected?
“I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how many times you failed. You only have to be right once. I tried to sell powdered milk. I was an idiot lots of times, and I learned from them all.” — Mark Cuban, Interview with Smart Business
One of the key things that I have learned from this is that I need to step up, push forward, and move with determination to get it next go around. I put more work in to prove why I am the right choice or why my strategy is the correct pursuit for the company. Whenever I have done this I have prepared better presentations, I have been more confident, and I have overcome the failure. It isn’t perfect. There were still things that I was passed over for, but at least I know that I didn’t just roll over. Failure, if pursued again and again will eventually turn into success. It may not be on our desired timetable, but persistence does indeed pay off.
I’m not going to say “go out and keep failing and you’ll eventually succeed”. That only happens if you learn from failure and make the needed adjustments. There will still be many bumps along the road. Making the proper adjustments is key. If we learn from what went wrong then we can align our thinking and strategy to a way that better helps us to succeed on the next go around. This is where the value of failure steps in. It is not easy to fail and overcome. That is why failure can be so great. It takes a lot of work to turn failure into a success. We become better people. We achieve more. We find solutions that otherwise we would not have.
I love rock climbing. I am not great at it. I won’t break any speed records or set any first ascents. I am not the guy that you are going to see scaling up El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. But, you will find me at the bouldering gym or on a local 5.10 up the canyons in Utah. A thing that I have learned from rock climbing is; if you don’t keep at it then you lose the ability to climb the tougher routes that you used to do. But if you continue to pursue and work a problem then you can be fairly adept no matter what your skill level. Working a problem is the best way to finally ascend it. If you try it once and only get up a third of the way and fail you have three options: First, you can say, okay, that’s too hard, I’m done; Second, you can keep working the problem over and over and over until you get strong enough to complete it; or, Third, you can step down a grade and work those problems until you feel strong enough to come back to the harder problem then go to the second option. Please don’t be the one to give up if you can’t figure out a problem. There is a way to complete it. You may need to look at it differently or just step back for a period of time and then return to pursue it at a later date. Keep it in your plans, though. If you completely abandon the problem then it has won.
Failure does not mean that you are done for. It just means that you need to look at it a different way. If you do, then you will experience success as you push forward.