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Failure: Accepting failure

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“Most of us know that failure is a reality of life, and at some level, we understand that it actually helps us grow” says Susan Tardanico, a contributor in Forbes Women. In her article published in 2012, she speaks about accepting failure and reminds us that “we all make mistakes” and further continues “but still, we hate to fail”. “We fear it, we dread it, and when it does happen, we hold onto it”.

Before sharing her outstaning five strategies of accepting failure, let us look at that is this elephant called failure and why do we welcome it in our own lives? Three definitions we should look at:

  • Failure is the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, and may be viewed as the opposite of success (Wikipedia.org)
  • Lack of success (OxfordDictionaries.com)
  • The condition or fact of not achieving the desired end or end (TheFreeDictionary.com)

From the definitions above, it is clear that

The strategies that we can use when we are faced with failure (@SusanTardanico):

  1. Don’t make it personal.  Separate the failure from your identity. Just because you haven’t found a successful way of doing something (yet) doesn’t meanyou are a failure. These are completely separate thoughts, yet many of us blur the lines between them.  Personalising failure can wreak havoc on our self-esteem and confidence.
  2. Take stock, learn and adapt.Look at the failure analytically — indeed, curiously — suspending feelings of anger, frustration, blame or regret. Why did you fail? What might have produced a better outcome? Was the failure completely beyond your control? After gathering the facts, step back and ask yourself, what did I learn from this?  Think about how you will apply this newfound insight going forward.
  3. Stop dwelling on it.Obsessing over your failure will not change the outcome. In fact, it will only intensify the outcome, trapping you in an emotional doom-loop that disables you from moving on. You cannot change the past, but you can shape your future. The faster you take a positive step forward, the quicker you can leave these debilitating, monopolizing thoughts behind.
  4. Release the need for approval of others.Often our fear of failure is rooted in our fear of being judged and losing others’ respect and esteem. We easily get influenced (and spooked) by what people say about us. Remember, this is your life, not theirs. What one person considers to be true about you is not necessary the truth about you, and if you give too much power to others’ opinions, it could douse your passion and confidence, undermining your ability to ultimately succeed.
  5. Try a new point of view. Our upbringing – as people and professionals – has given us an unhealthy attitude toward failure. One of the best things you can do is to shift your perspective and belief system away from the negative (“If I fail, it means I am stupid, weak, incapable, and am destined to fall short”) and embrace more positive associations (“If I fail, I am one step closer to succeeding; I am smarter and more savvy because the knowledge I’ve gained through this experience”).

Susan concludes with very inspiring words “And if you ask those who have distinguished themselves through their achievements, they will tell you that failure was a critical enabler of their success.  It was their motivator.  Their teacher.  A stepping stone along their path to greatness.  The difference between them and the average person is that they didn’t give up”.

 From this moment onwards, you should look at things differently!

Let me talk to a learner, a student, and even an adult that is still busy with their studies. Passing an examination is the ultimate goal towards the end of each year. This does not happen overnight or by just wishing for it. You need to work very hard for it.

In my matric year, more than a decade ago, I used to assist junior students with their studies and not focus on mine entirely. This, reflected in my aggregate mark because I had my time split between my own studies and another person. The worst thing that could have happened would have been to fail my examinations, but it did not happen. It was only after the results were published that I regretted my actions – and I was not going to turn back the clock.

A matric student or a final student in a higher education institution only has about 10 months in that year, to focus on their final examinations. This is not just any year, it will be the year that marks the milestone of completing your qualification. Why not give it your all and make sure that your studies take 100 per cent of your time and attention?

On the other hand, we are created differently and our levels of grasping and understanding things, including studies, varies. There are those that give their all to studies but still do not gain the success they wish for. That moment of failure should not define how your future will be.

If you did not make it after the final examinations, always know that there is yet another opportunity for you to rewrite.  All you have to do is to be true to yourself and correct all the wrongs that you may have done. Look at this failure and let it motivate you to get out of it with flying colours. You need to distinguish yourself from the state of having failed – you are not the failure you have experienced.

Once you change your attitude towards failure – have it motivate you


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