By David Ly Khim
This is the second-half of a two-part series about turning failures into stepping stones for success.
Last week we discussed the mentality you need to succeed after failure and we went over the tools you’ll need to help you succeed.
Now that you have the tools and know what not to do, I can tell you how to succeed after failure.
So you’ve just failed. You want to ball up and cry and mourn about the time and effort you wasted. Do what you need to do, but you can’t keep that up for long if you want to succeed. Keep it together.
The 8 Steps:
1. Give yourself a set amount of time to recuperate. Set a specified period of “mourning” time during which you can wallow in your sorrow. Cry it out, gorge on your favorite ice cream, spend time with your friends, and vent if you need to. Just know that you’re going to be okay and that you’re going to bounce back up.
When that time ends, recalibrate your mindset to move on. Your time can range from five minutes, to a few days, or a week. Just decide on a time frame and stick with it.
2. Remain positive. Remember that you learn something new with each failure. You may gain new skills along the way and learn what not to do. Now you can detour and begin a new plan, meaning you’re still making progress toward your goal. You’re one step closer to succeeding–not one step behind.
You’re one step closer to succeeding–not one step behind.
3. Reflect. You may be angry and sad and disappointed, but try not to let yourself stay in that mindset. Accept what happened and keep moving forward. Ask yourself these two questions:
What could I have done differently?
Was it out of my control?
Ask for feedback from the people you can trust, they can provide you with additional (and more objective) perspectives that can help you look at the situation from another angle.
Think of reflection like driving. You make small, minor adjustments while you drive on the highway to stay in your lane and continue driving straight. You don’t wait until you’re out of your lane and swerve back in–you might cause an accident.
As with “mourning” time, set a time limit for reflection. You don’t want to get stuck in reflection–it may lead to sulking.
4. Don’t blame anyone. It’s important to reflect without shame and without blame. Don’t be ashamed of the failure and don’t blame yourself or anyone else. It’s instinctive to want to direct the blame at a person, but that isn’t constructive. Feeling shame and finding someone to blame won’t help you get closer to your goal.
If you want to blame yourself, remember that it is not your failures that define you, it’s how you react to failure.
Failure is an event, never a person; an attitude, not an outcome. – Zig Ziglar
5. Be open to making changes. You may have to change your mindset, your approach, or even your goal. Every time you fail, you will reflect and learn, and you will have to apply your new knowledge to your situation. This may mean redrafting your plan and refocusing your goals.
6. Take action. This is likely the most difficult step. It’s easy–and normal–to feel paralyzed after failing. It’s easy to sit around and sulk or get stuck in reflection when there’s nothing left to reflect on. The fear of failure may often frighten you enough to not take action.
When this happens, you worry more about preparation in an effort to avoid failing again. You may want to prepare so that you start back off on the right foot. Don’t worry about starting back off on the right foot. Just focus on starting again. You’ll learn as you go.
“The fastest way to succeed is to double your rate of failure.” – Thomas Watson
7. Try something new. This is open to your interpretation. You may have to try a new approach, experiment with new methods, and/or create a new plan from scratch. Perhaps you can reach your goal through a different medium, in a different setting, or in another field.
This may seem counter-intuitive. However, if you try new things, you’ll put yourself in a new environment and you’ll learn about other perspectives. You’ll learn new methods of thinking. Then, when you return to your main goal, you’ll be refreshed with new tactics and new ideas.
You may even find that you’re very interested in that new thing you tried.
The last step is the most important.
8. Don’t give up. If you’re truly working hard and you’re truly taking the time to reflect, and learn, and adapt after the each, then good. Don’t give up. Most of the time, success isn’t about being the best, or networking the most, or working the hardest–it’s not even about being the most passionate. Most of the time, it’s just about not giving up.
“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius.
Success is not an end goal. It’s a journey.
When you do succeed, remember to continue embracing risk. Stay hungry for more improvement, and stay humble. Do not get comfortable with where you’re at. Redefine your goals and continue to fail and learn.