“Failure” – does this word send shivers down your spine? We fear failures, we almost hate them, but we can mostly agree that we’ll face them at many points of our lives. As failures are sometimes unavoidable (well, we may be extra cautious but sometimes we just don’t see it coming), we must learn to celebrate them because they’re, in fact, opportunities in disguise which bring us closer to what we hope for.
Our journey through life is just like walking in the opposite direction of the current of a stream. (Or even a waterfall!) Failures are like the current, constantly pushing us backwards and knocking us down. If we manage to tide through failures, we’ll realise that we’ve become stronger and more perseverant when we look back at our journeys. Failures aren’t scary; giving up is. Failures remind us that we haven’t reached our full potential. They do help us improve our capabilities.
However, if we fear failures too much, we’ll stay in our comfort zone and refuse to explore new possibilities. I guess that’s only because we want to ‘save our faces’? If we don’t bounce back after we fall, we would get carried away by the current; and hence, go backwards in life.
Of course, celebrating failures is however easier said than done in real life. We may still be upset at our failures (which is normal), but we could make the best out of them by accepting, learning, and moving on from them.
Failure goes hand in hand with innovation. Source: Success
Accept our failures
Accepting failures is never easy. But we must remember that failure is part and parcel of life. Some fear failures so much that they simply give up trying when they face difficulties. They then become subdued into thinking that they deserve a lifetime of mediocrity. That’s actually quite common in Asia where one is taught from young that failures are a disgrace: in the family, in the school, in the workplace. (Remember the classic holy quote in our history textbook about not remembering history and then repeating the same mistakes and then we’re doomed and then the whole world ends? Come on. Really? To children? Adults are the failure!)
The case is, if we think from an optimistic perspective, failure is not a dead end but a turning point which tells us that the path we initially took doesn’t lead to our destination. Then we innovate; we change strategically. There’s always a way. Take note that accepting failure is not synonymous to giving up, but to acknowledge it as part of lifelong learning process.
Learn from our failures
After accepting the fact that we’ve failed, we should self-reflect to identify our flaws and shortcomings. Was it a mistake that we could have prevented? Was it due to insufficient effort to achieve our goals? Or was it because of unforeseen factors? In short, we should find out what we could have done better or prevented. Then we should come up with initiatives to avoid or solve the problems which we’ve identified. We should get prepared to face the trade-offs and make worthwhile sacrifices.
When I was at secondary school few years back, I took Mandarin for SPM. (Despite its renowned difficulty!) I was rather confident that I’d do well in that subject. After finishing the semester test, I was deflated to know that I obtained few grades lower than my target for that subject. Even though I didn’t fail the test, I thought of running away from my failure by taking up another ‘easier’ subject instead.
When I finally accepted my failure, I thought to myself, “Why don’t I try again? I’ll drop the subject if the outcome doesn’t improve in the next test.” I asked for feedback from my teacher and found out that my essay, which was a descriptive story, went off tangent. The low mark for that essay pulled down my grade.
To overcome this problem, I changed my strategy and decided to write discursive essays in the following tests instead of stories, writing which I tend to go off topic. In the end, I surpassed my expectations for the final exam of that subject. If I had run away from my failure, I may not have known that I could make a comeback and achieve what I thought was impossible.
Moving on from failures (because we shouldn’t waste time mourning the past)
Life is too precious to dwell on past failures. We should make peace with our past, live to the fullest at present, and prepare for our future. Our failures are part of the stories of our lives, so it’s impossible to turn back time and prevent those failures. (Unless you have a time machine, please bring me along!) Treat your failures like battle scars: it’s part of human nature to make and repeat our mistakes. Eventually, you would no longer feel the pain, even if you’ll never forget them. It’s not a miracle that something that was so grave and crazy in the past seems to be so tiny now.
I believe failures are part of the process of achieving success. Who doesn’t make (a lot of) mistakes, after all? The key is, whenever we face failures, just remember that by accepting, learning, and moving on from failures, we can accomplish more in our lives. So, when you face failures in the future, and perhaps now, fear not, for you’re most probably one step closer to whatever you’ve been working hard for. Just hang in there!
Written by Seow Sheue Ying
Featured image from theodysseyonline.com
Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of IGNITE.