Failure, is one of the more foreboding words in life, but it really should not be. Of all the ways it can affect the things we do, it does not have to be negative. Let’s face it, failure happens. It can be awful and it can be tolling on our lives; but the fact of the matter is, unless absolutely devastating damage was caused, it can most likely be overcome. It is only our perception of a situation that makes it so bad and inhibits our future successes.

Keep in mind, even the most successful people in the world have failed:

  • Thomas Edison was fired from several positions for not being productive and failed to create a working light bulb 10,000 times. He is noted for saying “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
  • Michael Jordan was cut from his High School basketball team.
  • Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first job as a television anchor for being too emotionally invested in her stories.
  • Henry Ford failed at a couple of automobile businesses.

The list goes on and on. All of these people led very different lives, worked in different fields, and lived in different times throughout history, but they all chose to learn from their failures and progressed to become very successful individuals in society.

We need to understand that we make mistakes in order to learn from them and prevent them from happening in the future. We do this by forcing ourselves to think of things in a different way and being creative in our thought process in order to get things right (a learned skill we can all benefit from). Expecting to fail is not the message. You should not have the attitude that you will fail. You should have the attitude that if you do, it is okay and, that you can overcome it and grow from it.

The fear of failure should not be an inhibitor in your life, but having a healthy fear of failure is acceptable as it can be a great motivator for success. An acceptable level of fear is one that makes you think about your actions and assess the situation from multiple angles before jumping to conclusions. However, finding success is usually aligned with taking risk, and with risk comes the potential for failure, that potential cannot be what holds you back. We need to accept that failure is not the “end all”. It may be a hurdle you need to overcome, but it is also a stepping stone, a move toward success if embraced positively (if you fall, get back up, it was a setback not the end of the world). When used advantageously, these failures can provide you with the knowledge you need to succeed.

Opportunity arises when we fail, it is just a matter of how we perceive the situation. Among the possible lessons learned, we can discover more about ourselves and the people around us, help to build character, and humble us (we all need that sometimes). To quote a popular saying, “If you haven’t failed you haven’t truly lived”; to put it plainly, If we do not ever experience failure, how can we better ourselves?

When we think about failure in relation to our careers, the implications may seem very high, but the same opportunities arise…insight into yourself and others you work with or want to work with, growth opportunity to learn new skills, motivation to succeed, put success into perspective (what you need to do to obtain it) etc. Do not let fear of failure run your career. Take risks, embrace the possibility of failure (try to soften the impact if you can) and make the progress you need to find success!