Failure Doesn't Have to Be a Bad Thing

“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, motivational speaker and consultant

Have you ever considered the mixed messages about failure in our culture? Riding a bike is the metaphor we often use in talking about failure. We encourage children to believe that they can learn the tricky balance required to ride only by falling repeatedly, brushing away the scrapes and the tears and trying again. Yet as they move through elementary, middle and high school, children are often given the message that failure is sign of weak character or for losers. The message is this: Failure is not an option!

We suggest that the first message is the right one: Failure does, indeed, ultimately open the door to success. Here are a few other things to keep in mind about failure:

Failure helps you learn and grow. If you’ll take the time to reflect on what went wrong, you can learn a better path forward that may ultimately lead to success. While the message “Failure is not an option” is crippling, this one is empowering: “Failure is opportunity knocking.”

Failure builds character. Humility is one of the great lessons from failure. We learn there are limits in our minds, our capacities, our interactions and ideas. That’s a good thing because it allows us to see ourselves more clearly.

Failure helps us be more resilient. When we fail, we have to come up with new approaches, new ways of being if we are to move forward. We have to tap into all our resources — brainpower, willpower and common sense — to come up with new solutions. Perseverance is another one of failure’s lessons.

Here’s an interesting article on why failure can be good for you. Remember, fear of failure can diminish your life. Failure can enrich it immeasurably!

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