How to Transform Failure into Success

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

success-failure-signEliminate the fear of failure

There is nothing more human than making mistakes. Despite that, in our eagerness for success we do our best to hide our failures and short comings from others. A movement to bring this behaviour to an end is growing. It’s called Fail Forward and calls for individuals to stand by their failings. The theory is that nothing contributes more to learning potential than your own failures. The question remains, is failure really the best way to move forward in your life? How can you best learn from your failures and orientate yourself towards success in the future.

Failures are the true winners

Ashley Good is convinced that learning from failure is the doorway to unlimited potential. She is the founder of Fail Forward and has received the Innovative Innovation Award for her ideas. Ashley is looking to show us the way to learning from failure and is calling upon everyone to stand by their mistakes. She believes that doing so is the key to reaching their true potential.
This approach has received praise from high places. The New York Times, the Guardian and even Bill Gates have spoken out in support of learning from mistakes. Not only that, there are major conferences in Silicon Valley dedicated to failure, where the best of the best in the business world speak about their failures over the years and how they contributed to their eventual success. Has failure actually become sexy? Could it be that failures are really the true winners?

From loser to winner?

The question if someone will become a winner or a loser is not an easy one to answer. Some of the biggest heroes in history were classified as losers during their lives. An example of this is Vincent van Gogh. While the 19th century artist’s paintings are now worth a fortune, during his lifetime, he was only able to sell one single painting. It was only after his death that he became one of the most famous artists of all time.
Furthermore, inventor Thomas Edison suffered through many failures before he finally made his breakthrough and invented the light bulb. Not only that, every sportsperson once began at the bottom and made numerous mistakes on their path to where they now are. Does this mean we should classify these big talents as losers? Today we would call them winners, however at an earlier stage of their lives, there were times when they were the loser. The key to their success was not giving up after each of their failures.

Failure – ruin or redemption?

Although many examples exist of people overcoming huge failures and reaching great success, in every day life, the Fail Forward concept can prove more challenging. The German economist Holger Patzelt researched this topic in a study. He looked at the failures of entrepreneurs and came to the conclusion that being able to learn from failure has a lot to do with the ability to process negative emotions. People who face a massive failure, fall quickly into a period of mourning. It is only those who are able to bring themselves back out of that, who have the chance to learn from their mistakes and begin anew.

Cultivate self-awareness

Those who are looking to learn from their mistakes must be willing to take a long, hard look at themselves. It is necessary to put your mistakes under a microscope in order to understand them and learn how to prevent them from happening again in the future. This is the way to forging a new future. Sometimes a successful life is faced with a small detour, and who knows what might have become of many of the world’s greatest, if they had not been faced with failure along the way.

Adapted from an article in Experteer Magazine
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