Failure is a word that naturally comes with a negative context because it implies that an effort was made, but no results were achieved, or at least no desirable results were achieved.
I have always seen it as something unpleasant that leaves no room for any further improvement. For me, it was like a dead-end street – once you reach the final line, that’s where your idea of success evaporates into thin air. In other words, once I’ve failed, I don’t ever get a second chance to try the same thing.
However, as years went by, I gained more and more experience, I frequently found myself in the most unlikely situations, and more often than I’d like to admit, I was faced with the “dead-end” situation.
As it often happens, it took me a few years of painful and defeating moments of failure to learn from them. Certain changes I didn’t notice immediately but after a while. Here, I’d like to show you what failure has taught me and how it has changed the way I perceive it.
- It has pushed me to try different approaches
I have learned that the same method will not work for every situation. For example, I would most certainly not use now the same approach I did in my first job interview more than ten years ago.
Different goals call for different means. With each failure I experienced, I tried to learn something new and turn it into a valuable lesson. I would talk to others, who were in a similar situation, ask for their opinion, or I would do my own research to see if there was something new I could learn.
I’ve come to embrace change that follows failure. When I started doing it, I noticed that in most cases, what seems like failure or disappointment at the time, usually proves to be just a stepping stone to something much better.
- It has built my character each time it happened
I’ve heard once that “You only grow when it’s difficult”, and I couldn’t agree more with it. I remember I was still a student when I applied for a teaching job for elementary school children. Of course, having just started my studies, I didn’t have enough experience or credentials, so they turned me down in the first round of the job interview. At the time, I was so disappointed in myself that I attributed my failure to my personality. Unfortunately, it became part of me, and I didn’t want to consider applying for a job any time soon.
Each time I failed at something, my patience and perseverance were put to the test. Each time was a new chance to contribute to becoming the best version of myself. I’ve changed, learned and outgrew who I used to be at the time. I let myself explore all the possibilities, discover new interests and, most importantly – enjoy the whole process.
- It has broadened my perspective on overcoming issues
I truly believe that every failure in life serves its purpose – we decide if we are going to look back at it as a negative or a positive experience.
When something doesn’t work out, I always try to understand it first before I decide to give up on it. Then, I try to dig deeper and ask questions that will lead me to find out why it didn’t work out the way I wanted it to.
I remember the first time a client returned my translation because, in their opinion, it wasn’t good enough. The initial feeling that struck me was anger. But, when it subsided a little, I could consider this issue from different points of view and eventually understand the client.
I believe it’s good to experience failure from time to time because it keeps us humble. It shows that our way will not always be the only right way, so naturally, we’ll broaden our perspective and try other options. Maybe, throughout the process, we will realise that the issue we are trying to solve does not interest us anymore. Or maybe we will see that we need to improve something we were very confident about.
For me, the main thing that labels failure as a good experience, no matter the circumstances, is the fact that it’s not the end of the journey. In the past, I gave up almost every time I failed at something, but looking back, I would have made a different choice. I would say that not knowing the outcome makes the journey even more exciting. When we try something for the first time, we can only hope for the best, but we can never know because success never depends solely on the effort we make.
So, although I cannot say, “I will never give up on anything”, I have made a decision always to try my best. Whenever I set a goal, I actively pursue it, and even if I fail, I explore new and miscellaneous ways of approaching it. The goal may stay out of reach, but there will always be something new I learn each time I make an effort to achieve it.
How does failure affect you? Have you found any ways of overcoming it?