Sinking ship, non-performance, collapse, downfall, loser. These are all words associated with failure, and unsurprisingly – they’re all negative. In our society, professional failure is not often an option or something that’s viewed as a welcome experience. Improvement, benefit, merit and gain are all much nicer meaning words but have you ever associated failure with any of them? You probably haven’t – but really, you should be.
The School of Hard Knocks is a common phrase that explains the concept that sometimes life’s hardest lessons are just as valuable, if not more so than any formal education or book. Everyone is bound to have had a few run ins with the School of Hard Knocks but whether you actually learn from any of these experiences can impact on the possibility of future successes.
Something gone wrong at work and now you’re worried about your job security and your ability to function as a human adult? Don’t worry! Don’t look so glum! It might sound a bit preposterous but the sooner you realise that failing at something is not going to cause your demise – the better. And actually (bear with us on this one) failure is a win. If you are able to pick out what that win is amongst the failure, then you are a great person because you may not know it but in every bad situation lies a little bit of good stuff waiting for you to capitalise on it.
Yes, it’s true! While we’re all at work busily trying our best to always do our best we often forget that in order to succeed it’s crucial that we fail – because it’s through failing that we learn so much more. Think about it: most people receive some form of feedback on their work on a regular basis. If we were constantly to receive only positive feedback, apart from having a massive ego, our quality of work, while good, would stagnate. The only way you can improve is if you receive negative criticism because quite frankly the negative feedback propels you to better yourself.
At IYBI we recognise how intrinsic feedback is, especially feedback of the negative variety – it makes us better at what we do and we always appreciate it. So as crazy as it sounds: be grateful for your failures and remember – as soon as you take the failure for granted that will be the precise moment you’ll lose good and proper.
Everyone is bound to fail a few times and it’s whether you learn from these experiences that impacts on the possibility of future successes
When failure comes knocking at your door – it’s very easy to crawl back in to bed and ignore everything and everyone. This, is denial. It’s also not taking responsibility. Both of these, while easy to do, are very bad ideas and will cause more damage for you professionally than the failure that prompted all of this in the first place. The best thing to do, as painful as it may be is to acknowledge failure. Say hello to it, welcome it in to your life. Then you have to take responsibility for the failure. Did you severely underquote a client? Don’t take it out on them and the service they receive – own up to the responsibility and take control of the situation.
By doing this, you’ll learn so much more – which is crucial in turning failure into a successful business. While it’s all well and good to be aware of your failure, it’s what you do next that’s more important: change your behaviour. There’s no point getting this far to just repeat your mistakes over and over again. You have to change your ways. You can do this by reflecting and implementing methods that will change how you do things in the future. And remember: things will only change if you do. The thing about failure is that it’s always an opportunity to learn but it’s your choice whether you make the most of that opportunity or not. Believe us, it will make you strong. Just like Kanye West.
So you failed. Was it an #epicfail? Really, was it massive? That’s okay you know. Has the world imploded? Has civilisation dramatically changed? Are people still speaking to you? Thought so. Of course there are some people out there who probably shouldn’t fail in certain situations like a pilot or a surgeon for instance – but for many of us, our failures will not cause the world to end.
So once you get a grip on this, you can certainly move on. At work you should approach things with a ”no fear” attitude – expect to fail. As The School of Hard Knocks teaches, failure is one life’s greatest teachers. You’ll never learn as much as you will from all of your failures. Take responsibility from them, learn from them and help them to bolster you for a more successful future: Successful at failing.