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

You Never Lose Your Value

billet-froisseA well known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a €100 bill. In the room of 200, he asked “What is this piece of paper and is it worth anything?” “It is a €100 bill, which can be cashed in international & national markets for it’s quoted value,” replied one of the many participants who raised their hands.

The speaker proceeded to crumple up the €100 bill using both his hands until it became a bundle of wrinkled paper. He then unfolded it again and making an unsuccessful attempt to keep it straight he asked, “Would you still be able to negotiate it for it’s quoted value?”

” Yes!” was the echoing reply from the participants.

“Well,” he said, “Looks like I haven’t done enough! What if I do this?” And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, which was now all crumpled, dirty, defaced and not easy to recognize from a distance. “Now will someone like to trade it for its quoted value?” Many hands went in the air.

“I think that piece of currency is still holding its quoted value” replied a participant in an unsure voice. “This bill can still fetch goods worth 100 Euros” said the other participants. Everyone agreed.

“My friends, there is a very valuable lesson in this exercise that we are just through with. It may have appeared to some of you, that I was able to deface, mutilate & alter the €100 bill during the process as the effects were quite visible”.

“However, no matter what I did to this piece of paper, you still upheld its negotiability because you were sure in your mind that my actions did not actually decrease its value. It was still a currency note worth €100”.

“Many times in our lives, we feel as though we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and/or the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. It may also appear to onlookers as if it has really happened to a certain extent. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, please remember you never lose your “Value”.

The Burning Hut

hutteThe only survivor of a shipwreck washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions.

One day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened; everything was lost. He was stung with grief and anger. “God, how could you let this happen to me!” he cried out. After much grief & sorrow, he fell asleep on the beach.

Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. “How did you know I was here?” asked the weary man of his rescuers. “We saw your smoke signal,” they replied.

Life challenges us with numerous & incredible opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations. A stone in your path can be seen as an obstacle or a stepping stone, an opportunity … A lot depends on your attitude and the perspective with which you consider things.

It is easy to get discouraged when the situation gets tough. But we shouldn’t lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering. Remember next time your little hut is burning to the ground- – it just may be a smoke signal that summons the grace of God.