“Failure has taught me everything I need to know about Success.” ~ Unknown
We hear quotes like this all the time when listening to some of the most successful people on earth. Stories about last dollars, sleeping in cars or moments of complete uncertainty that loomed around them right before they “Made it.”
Bottom line, most that have achieved great things have had a few hurdles in their journey.
Can you think of any that haven’t?
Failing Makes You a Failure?
In the world we live in, we listen to the leaders that tell us about their low points, their ideas that crashed and burned and we see comfort in those stories. But then we continue with our days and we continue to look at those around us that don’t succeed as some type of leper incapable of making a contribution.
While I of course should never generalize, I ask you to consider this question.
When is the last time that a failed business or project has been a key reason for someone to hire you for a new project?
Perhaps you are the one that leveraged that failure, but I will stick to my guns and say that most people do not want to hear about your failures nor are they interested in how you may have learned something from a past failure that may be the catalyst of success in the future. (Even though they should be)
Have you ever experienced the famous interview question; Describe your biggest weaknesses(es)?
How did you answer that question? Let me guess, you told them you are a work-a-holic or that you make others look bad? Perhaps you told them about how you try really hard or that you are a bit of a perfectionist?
If failure was a badge of honor then why does every person feel the need to answer this question with cliches like I try to hard or I’m a perfectionist? Come on!
If failure was seen as some type of valor a response may be more like I’ve realized that I’m great at working with the client but I’m really a bit challenged to keep up on the administrative work. Moreover, I’m definitely the sales and not the operations. But people would never say that because that would be admitting weakness or ehem, failure.
But we say things like that because people really don’t want to hear about our weaknesses. Those are failures and we are a success; or at least that is the story we choose/need to tell.
Really Learning From Failure
Do you want to know the difference between a great failure and a great person that failed?
It is unequivocally in the person’s response to the event. More specifically…
What. Did. You. Learn that will help you in the future?
This isn’t a new idea, but let’s agree that ideas are far less the problem than the execution. For every bad idea that fails there are a plethora of good ones that fail right along with it. But the execution lacks.
If execution was indeed the fail point then figuring out specifically where you went wrong and how to correct it next time may be the difference in succeeding the next time.
Wearing Failure Like a Badge of Honor
It is easy for Bill Gates or Richard Branson to get in front of a crowd and talk about their misses. How about Donald Trumps multiple bankruptcies?
For these types of individuals we don’t stand in judgement, we just stand in awe at what they HAVE accomplished and we cast aside that in which they have not.
But if you really think about it, besides putting pants on one leg at a time, most of us have very little in common with these “Titans of Industry” besides the fact that we have all failed. And you know what? That is okay.
Here is what isn’t okay.
Pretending or ignoring the lessons of our imperfection.
Besides a little luck, the reasons that the great became great and the rest stay the rest is that the great do learn from their mistakes. In fact they learn from everything. It is wired into their very being to be relentless in pursuit of their goals.
However, like you and I, they have all come up short in the past.
We learn so much about who we are when things don’t go right. It is an opportunity for introspection in a way that we can never see during times of prosperity. We must maximize this time by seeking to get the most from it.
Our failure aren’t really failures, they are all part of the journey and the lessons should be a catalyst to greater success and a badge or honor for our very being.
We arrive here because we came from there…wherever that may be.
But be proud of your failures, take the time to learn and grown and be better the next time.
The list of great failures becoming great successes is as long as the list of great successes.
As Churchill said “Success is not final, and Failure is not Fatal,” remember that and keep going!