Many people thinking of failure as the undesirable end of something they attempted, when really it is just the beginning.
People are scared right now because it seems like our economy is never going to fully recover from the 2008 mortgage fiasco. They worry about losing their home, their job, or being a bag lady in retirement; small business owners wonder how they are going to cover overhead, let alone thrive. The one (small) consolation we have is that everyone is “failing” as part of a global economy, versus just one individual experiencing it alone.
Failure must be kept in perspective. Dr. John C. Maxwell, an internationally recognized leadership expert, has some insight into the concept of perseverance. Exactly how does one persevere? Maxwell clarified the elements, abilities and characteristics contained in that sometimes ambiguous, all-encompassing word. Many public figures have failed pretty dramatically, but through employing the seven key abilities of absolute perseverance, these people were able to move beyond failure.
Thomas Edison may be the public figure most known for his ability to persevere in the face of failure. The father of the phonograph, the light bulb and many other things, holds 1,093 U.S. patents in his name, as well as many patents in the United Kingdom, France and Germany. At one time, prior to the successful light bulb prototype, someone asked him how he could keep going after failing so many times; he replied, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
You might be shocked to learn of the list of people who survived bankruptcy to go onto do great things – Abraham Lincoln (one of four bankrupt presidents), Henry Ford, Walt Disney, Milton Hershey . . . if you want to get the gory details on them, click here.
Failure didn’t stop these famous figures, but it has paralyzed countless individuals, ultimately reducing their likelihood of (or slowing the journey to) future success.
At some point in their lives, everyone thinks they are failures. Instead of giving up, great achievers keep trying. They hold onto self-belief and refuse to see themselves as failures. There are seven abilities of achievers that enable them to persevere and keep moving forward.
Achievers who persevere do not base their self-worth on their performance. They have a healthy self-image that’s not dictated by external events. When they fall short, rather than labeling themselves a failure, they learn from mistakes in their judgment or behavior.
When people fail, they’re often tempted to blame others or external factors for their lack of success. By pointing fingers, they sink into a victim mentality and relinquish the course their life takes to “fate.” When playing the blame game, people can’t learn from their failures. This is also known as locus of control.
See Failure as Temporary
People who personalize failure see a hole they’re permanently stuck in, whereas achievers see any predicament as temporary. One mindset gets stuck in the failure, the other looks forward to success. By putting mistakes into perspective, achievers are able to see failure as a momentary event, not a symptom of a character flaw.
Set Realistic Expectations
Unrealistic goals doom people to failure. For instance, if a person hasn’t exercised for five years, then making it to a gym twice a week may be a better goal than going every day. No one is perfect; everyone fails, so people must emotionally (and strategically) prepare to deal with setbacks.
Focus on Strengths
Don’t spend more time focusing on flaws than building on your strengths. People who recognize and act on their strengths have a far lower rate of failure than those who try to fix their weaknesses. You’re built to give your talents to the world; be diligent about using them in your career.
Vary Approaches to Achievement
In the Psychology of Achievement, Brian Tracy writes about four millionaires who made their fortunes by age 35. On average, these achievers were involved in 17 businesses before finding the one that took them to the top. They kept trying and changing until they found something that worked.
Many people dont do what they want to do with their life because of the fear of failure. As a culture, we are not geared up to take the risk and learn from failures. This is a great article on “Successful Failures”