Three ways to deal with failure

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Failure is painful. Learning how to deal with it is the key to being successful. Here are three ways:

Do not let rejection get to you: In life, people will always have an opinion about us and our work. Sometimes it will be negative. It is just an opinion; could be right or wrong. When people with negative opinions hold positions of power or authority, they can withhold rewards we want such as jobs, promotions or awards.

Einstein’s teacher had famously said that that his student ‘would never amount to much’. WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton got rejected for a job in Facebook. Few years’ later Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 Billion! J. K. Rowling got rejected from 12(!) different publishing houses before she finally found someone to publish Harry Potter. Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for ‘lack of imagination and good ideas.’

Sometimes you can get useful feedback from people who rejected you and shine a light to your blind spots. Other times their opinion is just irrelevant and simply wrong. Do not let rejection define you. Learn from it when appropriate and move on.

Know when to fold them: There is a lot to be said about resilience and persistence. Thomas Edison famously said: ‘I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.’

However, sometimes failure is a signal that we are barking at the wrong tree or trying to climb the wrong ladder. We are pursuing the wrong kind of success. In these cases, it is important to cut your losses. Do not keep wasting your time, talent and sanity at the wrong game. Find another game. One you will enjoy more. One that suits you better. Success will come a lot easier then.

Oprah Winfrey was fired from the evening news because she was getting emotional with her stories. Initially, she considered her job at the daily show a huge demotion. The rest is history. As Einstein said: ‘Everyone is a genius but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid’

Embrace failure as necessary for success: Everybody makes mistakes on their way to success, we are only human. It is because of failure, not despite of it that we succeed. The more original your ideas, the more the risk of failure. The only certain way to not fail is to not try at all and that’s the biggest failure of all. There is a famous Michael Jordan quote:

‘I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.’

If the greatest basketball player in history attributes his success to his failures who are we to argue? Take risks, fail, learn, try again.

You can disregard failure, change course or embrace it. The important thing is to not loose faith in yourself. You are too unique and it would be too much of a loss to the world if you did. Pick yourself up after a failure with compassion. Get back on your path. Do not settle. Let go of fear. Dream big. Do something extraordinary.

‘Only those who dare to fail greatly can achieve greatly’ Robert F. Kennedy

Executive Coach at Former Google business leader. Fast Company & Thrive Global Contributor.

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