How to Deal With Failure: Making Failure Temporary

How to deal with failure


Unless you've allowed yourself to completely stagnate, there's a pretty good chance you're going to experience failure at some point in your life. Learning how to deal with failure and make failure temporary is the key to getting past failure and moving on to more successful endeavors. Ultimately, this is your life and you're in the driver's seat. Is a crash going to send you to the junkyard or is it going to temporarily sideline you while you rebuild and prepare for the next race?

Famous Failures

Successful people, almost to a T, will tell you they experienced failure time and time again on the road to success. Through it all, they remained focused on their ultimate goal, which is becoming successful. Check out this list of famous people who experienced failure on the road to success:

  • Henry Ford. Ford experienced multiple failure before he founded Ford Motor Company. He started multiple businesses that didn't make it before he hit it big.
  • Harland Sanders. If you don't recognize the name Harland Sanders, maybe Colonel Sanders will ring a bell. The founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken was reportedly rejected more than 1,000 times before he found a restaurant willing to try his secret blend of herbs and spices.
  • Bill Gates. Microsoft is a household name. In fact, there's a pretty good chance you're viewing this website from a computer running Microsoft Windows. If not, you've probably got at least a handful of Microsoft programs on your computer. Before striking it rich with Microsoft, Bill Gates founded a company called Traf-O-Data. Gates attempted to bring to market a computerized method of processing data from traffic counters, which are the black hoses you drive over that measure your speed and the number of cars passing through an area. This business failed and Bill Gates went on to found what's arguably the biggest company in the history of the world.
  • Akio Morita. You may not recognize the name Akio Morita, but I'm sure you recognize the Sony brand. Morita wasn't always a high-tech power player. He started off in the rice cooker industry, but sold less than 100 units due to quality issues. He cut his losses and went on to found Sony.
  • Walt Disney. The Disney empire today rakes in billions of dollars. Walt Disney wasn't always successful and experienced failure in his younger years. In fact, he was once fired by a newspaper publisher because he "lacked imagination." He went on to found a number of businesses that failed before he created Disney.
  • Abraham Lincoln. Before he became the 16th President of the United States of America, Lincoln went to war with a rank captain and found himself demoted to private upon his return from the war. He failed in numerous attempts to get elected to public office and started a handful of businesses that also failed.
  • Albert Einstein. While the name Einstein is synonymous with genius, it wasn't always that way. Einstein didn't learn to read until he was seven and his teachers and parents believed he was mentally handicapped. He was a slow bloomer and was expelled from school and denied entry to the Zurich Polytechnic School, but went on to become one of the greatest minds in the history of man.

This is just a small sampling of the famous people who have experienced failure before hitting it big. Had they of given up when they first failed, they never would have made it.


Failure Isn't the End, It's a New Beginning

Failure shouldn't be seen as the end of the road. Instead, look at it as the beginning of a new road. Instead of allowing failure to define you, learn from the mistakes you made that led to the failure and start off down a new path armed with the knowledge gained from the previous failure.

Those who become great don't seek to avoid failure at all costs. They play for high stakes, with the knowledge that their failures may be epic in proportion. When failure happens, and it almost always does before success is found, they pick up the pieces and rebuild, this time on a much stronger foundation.

How to Deal With Failure

It isn't the fact that you failed that will ultimately determine whether you're successful or not. It's how you deal with failure that matters the most. Here is a 5-step plan you can enact when you experience failure that will help prepare you for success further down the road:

1. Admit to the failure.

So, you failed. You can look for excuses or you can stare failure straight in the face and embrace it. Admitting you failed is the first step in dealing with failure.

2. Recognize the role you played in the failure.

Examine the failure and the reasons for the failure closely. If you don't understand why you failed, you won't be able to make changes to your plan of attack the next time around. Those who don't learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them. If you're going to fail in the future, you don't want it to be because you made the exact same mistakes you did this time around.

3. Don't beat yourself up over it.

Yes, failure hurts and it can hurt intensely. Give yourself a short while to feel bad and then get over it. You aren't going to be successful if you spend the rest of your life regretting the mistakes you made that lead to the failure.

4. Learn from your mistakes.

It's OK to forgive your mistakes. It isn't OK to forget them. Learn from your mistakes and commit to never making the same mistakes again. You might make other mistakes, but the mistakes you made this time should be avoided the next time around.

5. Try again.

This is a tough one for most people. You need to be willing to start over and stare failure in the face again. Each time you fail, you'll begin anew with more knowledge than you had the previous go-round. Eventually, you'll find success, but it'll never happen if you don't keep trying.

Keep a Positive Outlook

It can be tough to stay positive while experiencing failure after failure, but you have to learn not to let your failures define you as a person. Don't give in to negative self-talk and allow yourself to start viewing your life as a failure. Instead, embrace a more positive outlook and view each failure as a stepping stone on the path to success.

I'll leave you with a quote from Michael Jordan, who is arguably the best basketball player to ever lace up a pair of Air Jordans:

"I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions, I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

Think about that for a minute and realize Michael Jordan was cut from his high school varsity basketball team the first time he tried out. He played JV basketball and went on to become one of the greatest players ever. How's that for turning failure into success?