Failure is hard. It’s a painful process that’s as eye opening as it is ego shattering. When we’re in the midst of failure, wading through its treacherousness, it seems that nothing can ease our pain. Nothing will make the heartbreak and torment that comes with failing any less cataclysmic in our eyes when we’re knee-deep in that seemingly endless struggle.
But failure, as much as it hurts, is a necessary evil. Failure, and the resultant pain it causes, helps to shape and mold us, tailoring a platform for future success. It doesn’t feel like something that’s beneficial at all when we’re going through it, but that failure is, in fact, a prerequisite for success. While it might sound ludicrous and outrageous, no truer words have been spoken.
Throughout the course of history, the most famous and successful people have failed the most times. The difference? They didn’t give up. But what kept them going? How were they able to persevere when clearly every last fiber in their physical makeup was screaming for them to give up? How were they able to ignore the naysayers, bear through the pain, and ultimately see things through?
While each individual had a different set of circumstances, there were a few important ways that they were able to recover from failure. If you’ve had some major failures in the past, and you’re looking for a glimmer of hope, know this — success is not possible without failure. The methods you’ll use to bounce back from failure might differ from the next person, but as long as you don’t give up, you’ll eventually see things through.
What is Failure?
Before diving into a discussion on how we can recover from failure, let’s talk about the act of failing itself. What is it? What does it mean to have failed at something? When can you draw that proverbial line in the sand and know that you’ve failed? Does some specific event have to signal that failure? Or is it something each individual determines on their own?
Specifically, failure, as defined by Wikipedia, is “the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, and may be viewed as the opposite of success.” But, who’s to say failure is ever met? Namely, failure is subjective since it relies on our personal viewpoints. When we enhance our view of what it takes to succeed, and we don’t give up, failure transforms from a final destination, into a stepping-stone.
When J.K. Rowling, author of the wildly popular Harry Potter series, first had the idea for her book, it was 1990, and she was on a train from Manchester to London. Although she didn’t have anything to write with at the time, she states that the idea came almost fully-formed into her mind. But, it took her 7 years to take that fully-formed idea and bring it into fruition.
Along the way, Rowling failed miserably at life. Over the course of the next 7 years, she had a daughter, went through a messy divorce, lost her mother, and endured living a life on welfare and social assistance from the government. Atop that, her original manuscript was rejected by all 12 major publishers in the UK, leaving her in tatters.
The glimmer of hope? In 1997, a small publishing house called Bloomsbury published her book, giving her a very small advance of £2,500 with a very limited print run. After that, the book caught on like wildfire. And we all know how the rest of the story goes.
Is It Easy to Recover from Failure In Life?
Similar to JK Rowling, there are plenty of other highly successful people who’ve failed many times over. Is it easy to recover from those failures that we face in life? Of course not. Is it worth it? You’ll bet it is. Because the victory tastes that much sweeter after having to wade through the seas of hopelessness and despair.
Failing at something in a monumental way, is also one of the best methods to build character. It allows for spiritual, emotional, and mental growth on an enormous level. It alters nearly every fiber in your being. While it hurts and involves a massive amount of pain, it serves us on so many levels that we’re simply unaware of at the moment.
So, while it’s not easy to recover from failure in life, it’s definitely possible. People do it all the time. They don’t give up. They don’t throw in that proverbial towel and call it quits. They keep pushing. No matter what it takes. They break through walls and tear down obstacles. But how? How is it done exactly?
While I don’t profess to have all the answers, I do know a thing or two from experience. I’ve learned an enormous amount of lessons through failure. At the time, it was hard to see the forest through the trees. But the picture, looking back it, became perfectly clear after a little while. I just had to distance myself from the pain.
Nothing in life worthwhile is ever going to come easy. If we want something that’s notable in life, in that we want to achieve some lofty goals, we’re going to have to work for it and likely fail over and over again. It’s a process. And it’s in that journey we call life that we’re shaped and molded into better individuals.
So, if you’ve failed, it’s not the end of the road. In fact, it’s a new beginning. You can easily recover from that failure in dozens of ways, but in my opinion, there are three very important methods that we can all leverage to bounce back. Here they are.
#1 — Be passionate about your dreams
If you’ve failed recently, aside from the heartache, you’ve likely focused your energy on the original goal and just how much it means or meant to you. If you’ve given up entirely, well, that’s a different story. But, if you haven’t, and you’re not willing to give in to defeat, then you need to address the meanings associated with your goal.
What did achieving success really mean to you? Was it superficial? In other words, was it just a money or image-related goal? Or, was there something deeper to it than that? When goals have strong enough reasons for their achievement, we do far more towards their attainment than we do for other less-meaningful goals.
For example, if your goal was to lose 50 pounds because you wanted to look good or fit into a particular pair of jeans, you might be willing to give it some effort. But, what happens when you hit a road block? What happens when the stress of everyday life becomes far too great to bear and you revert back to the chocolate cake or fast-food diet you were so fond of in the past?
On the other hand, let’s say for example that you had the same goal of losing weight because of a recent health scare, or because you wanted your kids to be proud of you and portray a good example to them of wellness and fitness. When you hit those same road blocks, you might look at things a little bit differently. Why? Because you’re passionate about that goal. It means something deeper and more profound to you than just the superficial reasons that sometimes propel us forward.
So, one of the best ways to recover from failure is to be passionate about what you’re going after. Find a meaning that supersedes the superficial reasons why we tend to want things. When you’re passionate about something, you’ll almost always have a deep and burning desire to achieve whatever you set your heart on because it will be meaningful enough to you.
#2 — Ensure you’re adding value to the world
One of the unifying principles that you’ll find in this world is that, in order to succeed at any endeavor, you have to add an enormous amount of value. No matter what it is that we’re talking about, success will be fleeting if it lacks a value-added proposition.
Every single person wants to feel like they’re getting value for whatever it is that they’re paying for. This is also the reason why a person would recommend another person when it comes to business or relationships of any kind. When someone gives you their recommendation, it’s because they feel like they’re adding value to you by doing so.
For example, if you just tasted the most amazing ice cream that you’ve ever had, and the price was competitive to other ice cream shops, telling another person would mean that you’re adding value to their lives. You’re giving them valuable information.
Why? Because you just found the most incredible ice cream shop, unparalleled in its taste, texture, and flavors, and you want them to know about it. When they realize that you were correct, you become the bearer of value. Same thing holds true for recommending any other person, place, or business.
When someone buys something out of the blue, or engages a company or person in a professional service, they want to feel like they’re getting an enormous amount of value for their dollar out of that transaction. They don’t want to feel like they’re being taken advantage of. This is how reputations are built and destroyed.
So if you want to succeed, focus on value. Even if you fail over and over again, as long as you have inherent value in whatever you’re doing, ultimately, over time, you will be victorious. It just won’t happen overnight. This is the perfect way to recover from failure. However, if you lack that value-added proposition, you can forget about long-term success.
Sure, you can succeed in the short term by taking advantage of others, but it will be fleeting. It will ultimately collapse all around you like a house of cards. But if you add a huge amount of value, you’ll succeed beyond even your own wildest dreams.
#3 — Shift your focus by contributing to others
The mind has a funny way of steering towards whatever it focuses on. The problem? It tends to focus on negativity and lack. We spend a lot of our days and nights steeped in those negative emotions such as anxiety, worry, stress, and fear. It’s no wonder we have a hard time focusing on what’s positive since we spend so much of our mental capacity in what’s negative.
And the mind has a funny way of steering that towards which it focuses on. When we focus on negative emotions, we beget more negativity. Like attracts like. While it might not seem like that’s the case, it most certainly is. On the opposite side of the spectrum, when we focus on positivity, we live in a state of abundance rather than lack.
In order to recover from failure, we absolutely must shift our focus. When we have to shift our focus, not only away from negative emotions, but also away from ourselves. We need to shift our focus to others and helping those in need by contributing our time, money, or energy to good causes. This shift of focus is so powerful that it moves the mind completely out of a state of lack.
When we focus on contribution and helping others, we’re sending a powerful signal to the mind. We’re telling it that we have way more than enough for ourselves, and we must begin to focus on others. Even if we lack the resources to live the life we truly want to live, contributing to others can help turn the tide towards a future filled with abundance.
This is also the best way to fill your heart with gratitude. When we’re grateful for what we have, we approach life and our goals with a different zeal. However, when our happiness and peace-of-mind rest on the achievement of some goal, our lives take on a far different tone.
When we can happily succeed rather than succeed to be happy, we can always recover from failure. And it won’t take that much effort. As long as we have our minds right and we’re doing things for the right reasons, the only thing that can separate us from our goals is time. Nothing else.