Tuesday, October 2, 2012

How to Productively Deal with Failure

In America we idolize success.  As a result failure is almost the unpardonable sin.  Nobody wants to fail.  It creates great stress on people.  The fear of failure can cause you to be indecisive.  You can't make decisions because you are afraid you are going to make the wrong one.  The fear of failure can make you a workaholic.  You never slow down because you're afraid of failing.  The fear of failure can cause you to lower your morals and ethics because winning is everything.

Here are three things you can do to productively deal with failure.

1.  Remember that Everybody Fails
Have you ever made a mistake?  Welcome to the human race.  Nobody is perfect.  We all make mistakes.  Everybody fails.  You are not perfect and you never will be.  You are not God.  The first step to dealing with failure productively is to accept that failure is a part of life.

2.  Realize it’s Not Fatal
We vastly over exaggerate the effects of failure.  Failing is not the end of the world.  The fear of failure is actually more damaging than failing itself.  Successful people are not people who never fail. They are simply people who get up again and keep going.

Failure is not failing to reach your goal.  Several years ago we set a goal to have an attendance of 800 on Easter Sunday.  We did not make it.  Failure is not failing to reach your goal.  Failure is not setting a goal.  Failure is not achieving your dream.  Failure is not having a dream.  Failure is not falling down.  Failure is refusing to get up again.  The founder of IBM, Thomas Watson said: "The way to succeed is to double your failure rate."

3.  Recognize the Benefits
Wise people know how to take advantage of failure.  They make the most of it.  How?

Let failure educate you.
Mistakes are simply learning experiences.  There are some things we only learn through failure.  Thomas Edison said "There is only one good idea in 100 so I want to discover the 99 failures as quick as possible."

Let failure motivate you.
We did not reach 800 on that Easter Sunday but we did have the highest attendance in the history of the church.  As a result we were more motivated than ever to reach 800. The very next Easter we surpassed 800 in worship.

Let failure build your character.
Failure has a way of maturing us.  Failure makes you less judgmental and more sympathetic to people around you.  It does not automatically grow your character, however.  Failure builds your character only when you respond to it correctly.