life lessons to learn from failure

Learning from failure: Useful and inspiring life lessons failure can teach us

"Although failure can be difficult to accept, it can also be an incredible learning opportunity. "
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From a young age, we are conditioned to think that failure is bad and needs to be avoided at all costs. And despite our best efforts, we are confronted by failure from time to time. Although accepting failure and learning from it can often be an uphill battle, the experience can still provide an incredible opportunity to grow and succeed in life. If analysed deeply and taken in the right spirit, failure can teach us valuable life lessons for a brighter future.

Picture this. You have written a draft of your first novel. When you started, your sole focus was to create a beautifully crafted story. But the final product is far from what you had in mind. You deem it a total failure while drowning yourself in misery. But after some time, you may begin to realise that you have learned more about writing and storytelling while creating this novel than anywhere else.

Most of the time, failure feels like an emotional kick to your ego, leaving you vulnerable and embarrassed. But it does not mean you should give up. It simply means that you took a risk, invested your time and effort, but came up short. Don’t treat your failure as something to be sad and ashamed about. Remember that the greatest inventions–such as the telephone and the lightbulb– were made only after countless failed attempts. Figure out what you did wrong and try again. The sooner you recognise your shortcomings, the better you can learn from your failure.

Here are a few useful and inspiring life lessons failure can teach you.

Embracing change

When you fail at something, it means you have fallen short somewhere. For instance, if you fail a test, it could be because you didn’t study enough or if you often get late for work, you may not be managing your time well. If you stick to the same negative behavioural patterns, growth and success will be hard to come by. A failure, on the other hand, can force you to challenge your current beliefs, values and knowledge and help you discover new growth opportunities. Embracing change also makes you courageous and resilient in dealing with life’s problems.

Taking responsibility

More often than not, when people make a mistake, their instinctive reaction is to shift the blame on someone else or avoid addressing the failure altogether. But when you take responsibility for the part you played in your failure, you show integrity, and in turn, feel empowered. Taking responsibility means you acknowledge your mistakes, which can help you learn and grow as a person. It is not only the right thing to do but can also help you make better choices in the future.

Building your character

When faced with failure, you discover that there could be more than one way to do something. The realisation that you are not always right can help you introspect and find your true potential. Failure can build your character by teaching important lessons in perseverance, open-mindedness and your ability to handle stressful situations. In his book, The Road to Character, author David Brooks states, “We live in a culture that teaches us to promote and advertise ourselves and to master the skills required for success, but that gives little encouragement to humility, sympathy and honest self-confrontation, which are necessary for building character.”

Learning to be humble

When you achieve success too easily or too often, it can make you feel invincible, which can lead to arrogance. On the other hand, when you fail, you learn that things can go wrong at any time. This keeps you humble and enables you to respect yourself and others. You become aware of your limitations, and thus, look for new ways to improve. According to research, humility is one of the critical leadership factors for creating an inclusive workspace. Failure fosters humility, which is not just important for leadership but for self-development as well.

Prioritising what is important

An important life lesson failure can teach you is that not every idea is worth your time and effort. Oftentimes, you may fail not because of your execution but because the idea you pursued was not worthwhile. When you experience failure, you learn to filter your ideas better and create goals that are important for you. Failure teaches you to prioritise and pursue things that show promise and benefit you in the long run.

Creating room for improvement

A great way to move forward in life is to learn from your failures and apply that knowledge to your next challenge. When you face any kind of failure, ask yourself why it happened. Keep questioning yourself till you find an answer. Doing so will help you gain clarity on your areas of improvement so that you can re-evaluate your approach and learn what you could have done differently.

Learning to never give up

Life is a game; you win some and lose some. The important thing is to keep playing. However, the pain of failure can knock you down if you are not prepared. This is why, when you face a setback, take it in your stride and move forward. Entrepreneur and billionaire Jack Ma failed many exams at school and in university. There was a time when he couldn’t even get a job at KFC. “You have to get used to the failure. If you can’t, then how can you win,” Ma said while giving a public lecture at the University of Nairobi in 2017. The early rejections taught him valuable lessons, which he used to achieve success in life.

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