Brian is an aspiring writer that seeks to inform and educate the public through informative and educational pieces from various categories.
Failure is Not the End
Have you tried riding a bike on your own as a kid? Did you ever take a fall in trying to do so and got away with a scraped knee? If you did, has that ever stopped you from ever wanting to ride a bike again?
I have a friend who actually broke an arm from trying some stunts on his bike, but that did not deter him from trying to master the stunt again once his cast came off. Looking back, I realized that children are the most persistent beings and they never give up so easily. I believe if all of us tried recalling our childhood, there will be times where we exhibit this never accept ‘NO’ for an answer attitude, especially when we are denied something we want.
Here is the thing – the greatest glory in living lies not in us never falling, but in rising every time we fall. As kids, we did not take failure too seriously and accept it as it comes. We just simply brushed it off and start over again without batting an eyelid. It did not seem that hard when we were young. However, as we entered adulthood, we take ourselves too seriously and focus too much on the loss and pain rather than the gain from the experience. I personally, am guilty of it too, and it is fairly normal to respond that way because we become emotionally invested in the act. Of course, failing as an adult brings to question a different set of consequences which makes falling from a bike pale in comparison.
The repercussion from a mistake may come at a high cost and therefore, we feel that we may never be able to recover from it. Nevertheless, always believe that there is definitely a silver lining in any situation we happen to find ourselves in.
The key takeaway here is to actually see the bright side of any circumstances and look past the negative implications. We only have one life to live and if we do not live it with vigor and enthusiasm, what else is there to look forward to? Definitely, we are entitled to grief and feel upset from a failed attempt.
The idea here is to not dwell on the matter for too long until you forget about the rest of the journey that you have yet to complete. Time stops for no man, so treasure every moment even during your lows and re-ignite the fire to get back up and fuel your next move. Another important clue here is that we ought not to beat ourselves up too much for having failed at an endeavor. First, calm your thoughts and acknowledge that it is part and parcel of life. A failure might have been caused by a mistake made due to a misguided notion that was unintentional or even something that was beyond our control. Thus, why would you blame yourself for a mistake or failure in which you had not known better or have any control over the outcome?
Get Back Up and Return Stronger!
You might have failed and hit rock bottom with wounds to remind you of the defeat. It feels hard to make a comeback and you are losing a grip on yourself as you drown in the feeling of self-pity. It can feel as if you are being driven into a black hole with no point of return. I can understand the feeling of hopelessness as I have been in such a predicament myself. You may experience a mix of emotions, and getting off the emotional roller coaster is actually harder than getting on.
The longer you entertain the negative thoughts about the situation you are in, you are wasting precious time and energy which could have been spent on setting things right. Even so, do take some time to get over the heartbreak and disappointment, but, jump back up as fast as you had fallen. Figure out what went wrong and how you could have done it another way instead and make a mental note to not repeat the same mistake. Putting it this way may seem like I am being nonchalant about the pain and angst that you may have experienced or am experiencing currently, but this is far from being the truth.
I learnt that at times when we are down there feeling broken and worthless, conquering our mind is the toughest but a deed that must be done. Some may laugh at your situation, and a few kind souls might take pity on you and offer some words of encouragement and support. Having a support system is great, but nothing will change until you start taking control of the situation yourself. Although it is hard, you have to train your mental resistance to snap out from the trance and make a firm decision to fight against the pain that you are currently experiencing.
Failure is never the end of your story. In fact, acknowledge it as a plot twist and decide next how you want the story to pan out. The remaining part of your life will reflect the decisions and actions you take thenceforth. Who knows that you will be looking back one day and realize that the failure was a turning point of a transformed life?
You Are the Architect of Your Own Destiny
I believe that we have the authority over our own life and a hand in determining our destiny. You might encounter potholes along the journey and some may be deep and treacherous, causing severe damage if you unwittingly get yourself into one. At times, the consequences can be damaging mentally, emotionally, financially, and physically. As a result, you may even experience the side effects of having your pride hurt and ego challenged.
Essentially, you are responsible for the perception of yourself and that is the only thing that matters. So, brush it off, start over again, and prove to yourself that you have it in you to overcome failure and achieve success. You do not have to rush through the recovery, but take small steps to get your rhythm back. Focus all your efforts on getting back up and push the self-deprecating thoughts and negative voices away. There is no doubt that in your vulnerable state, you are bound to be tempted to wallow in self-pity.
Distract yourself with a change of environment that encourages positivity and perhaps join a social interest group to meet new people. You may even employ creative measures such as taking up a new hobby to fill your time purposefully or you can even volunteer for a cause that you believe in. These distractions allow you time and space to get past the phase of disappointment and the positive setting can boost your morale.
There are many other ways that you can use to help yourself to move on. At times, we do not realize that we are part of the reason why it is hard to move on from that single failure or past mistake. In fact, many successful people have failed more times at even higher costs but they never gave up and continue to believe that one day, things will change for the better. Sometimes, we see failure as terminal and final because of the expectation we set for ourselves.
Do not Compare Your Journey with Others’
Many years back, I made an impulsive decision which caused me a great deal to recover from. I was remorseful that the experience affected my personal and professional life gravely. Back then, I was not making much from my office job but just enough to get by comfortably. However, I was ambitious and wanted to live a life bigger than the one I was in. With a little encouragement from a couple of my friends, I took a loan to invest in a joint venture. The business was only in its’ early stages but I was so hyped up and positive about the outcome and impact we could be making. I wanted to focus on making the venture a success that I actually quit my stable job and immersed myself in the business. The ride started smoothly with little hiccups here and there.
As we progressed further down the road a couple of years later, we somehow lost grip of the situation and things started to spiral out of control. We underestimated the competitor and as time went by, our expenses got bigger as we tried to outperform them. We began to realize that we could not move forward unless we pumped in more cash and time was running out. That was when I started to doubt myself and the team’s ability to survive the ordeal. We tried multiple avenues to keep the enterprise afloat until we could not do anything more without getting into more debt. The team convened and decided that we will dissolve the business and part ways as all of us could not bear the burden of the situation any longer. Part of me felt angry that we failed to sustain the business even though we gave it our all. Another part of me felt sad and bitter as I could not fulfil my dream of creating a better life through entrepreneurship.
My confidence took a hit and I was ashamed as I had to face my family and friends after the ordeal. To make matters worse, I had a loan to finance with no means to come up with the money to do so, given the abrupt circumstance. A mixture of shame, guilt, and regret filled my days as I cannot stop thinking of what went wrong and what else we could have done to prevent it. I just wanted to disappear and wished that my problems would go away on its’ own. It was a foolish thought but I was desperate. I had to move back and live with my parents as I could not afford to rent any longer. To add insult to injury, I had to get help from family and friends for funds to meet the monthly loan repayments. It was a terrible time and my self-esteem took a big hit. I was frantic to find a solution and I started looking for a job again after a month of staying home feeling pity for myself. I managed to get a job and started to slowly patch back pieces of my life together.
There were moments I questioned the outcome of the decision I made back then to start a business. I had wanted to escape the rat race and set my aim way too high for my means. After the business failed, I had no choice but to get back to work. Nevertheless, I felt that I had done justice to myself for taking a chance in trying to fulfill my dream. I still do have friends that are in business and some are doing well, while a few are struggling since the pandemic. I believe that each person’s journey is different and our experience or outcomes are definitely unalike. At the end of the day, there is no point to compare one person’s achievement or situation because we all have different abilities, skills, strengths and our starting point in life vary as well.
Fall Down Seven Times, Stand Up Eight
There is a Japanese proverb that goes like this – “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.” Failure is a part of life when we try to be better and exceed our expectation that we set for our self. There is no guaranteed success and we are bound to face disappointments as we push the boundaries. However, we can choose to never give up hope and strive for more. The main emphasis here is to focus on the future, instead of making the flaw in front of you the centre of attention. If you can get back up and do more despite having failed, you at least have the chance to change your future for the better. There is a wise saying by Les Brown which I find very inspiring – “When life knocks you down, try to land on your back. Because if you can look up, you can get up.”
The only way to embrace the true abundance that you are meant to have in life is by being persistent. How will you know your true potential if you keep running away at the first sign of difficulty? Can you just imagine the circumstance today if Thomas Edison were to give up after the many failed attempts at developing practical methods for generating electricity, which gave us the lightbulb? Or would we be able to see an end to the pandemic if scientists decide to give up trying to formulate a vaccine just because they have failed the first hundred tries? The struggle is real and the journey that comes after failure is not easy but at least it gives us an upper hand in life knowing what works and what doesn’t.
There will definitely be times when you feel like giving up and returning back to your comfort zone. You may feel defeated and broken but you have to remember that there is always a chance to get back up again. There will surely be a light at the end of the tunnel if you would only hold on and continue the journey. Sweet success will be the reward for those that are willing to be uncomfortable to get through the short moment of failure. If you keep running away from your fear of failing, you could be taking a risk of depriving yourself of the potential that you could achieve. Dig your heels into the ground and stand tall even when life throws its’ worst at you. Dredge through that storm with power and grace and do not relent. Keep pushing and striving until you get what you want in life. Just like Robert H. Schuller says “Tough times never last, but tough people do”.
Find Meaning and Purpose through Difficult Times
An advocate for civil rights known for toppling South Africa’s racist system of apartheid, Nelson Mandela was someone that had gone through unimaginable suffering and trauma in championing his cause. Even in the face of hardship, Mandela portrayed a calm and composed demeanor. He was a very optimistic person that no adversity could break him. If he had not persisted in his mission and gave up when threatened, South Africans might still be living under oppression now.
His optimism encourages one to keep one’s head pointed to the sun and one’s feet moving forward. Mandela believed that one should not give up and succumb to despair as it is how defeat and death lies. The reason Mandela was able to endure the hardships that befall him was that he chose to focus on the good and kept pushing forward. If life puts you down, you fight back and never surrender without a fight. There will be some dark and trying times that will test your character and tenacity. In order to pull through, divert your attention from the hurt and pain.
Instead, channel your energy in discovering the meaning of the situation and reinforce your purpose. Identify how this situation could be a stepping stone towards the direction where you are headed. The regret and resentment will definitely still be lingering in your mind, trying to overthrow you from your mission to recover from the ordeal. You have to suppress the thoughts and never let them take control over you. Fight it with positive and encouraging reflections in which you affirm that you have done right by yourself in pursuing the big dream with all that you got. Reignite the purpose you had when you began the journey in the first place and slowly resume back on track.
Use Mandela’s life story as an inspiration; he was sent to prison for 27 years for his work but after his release, he came back as the president of a democratic South Africa. He worked tirelessly to dismantle the systematic racism in the country and bring freedom to his people. But can you imagine what those 27 years in prison were like for Mandela? Even after his release, he did not emerge from prison to seek revenge but instead fought to implement lasting changes for the future of his country. Mandela proved that staying true to his purpose had a supernatural influence on his survival and ability to recover from the nightmare. He knew the meaning of his life and where he was headed, which was critical in his planning for his comeback.
So, ask yourself these questions. What is the meaning of your goal? What is holding you back from achieving it? How can this failure offer you the experience that will contribute to the continuation of your journey ahead? When you know the true purpose and reason behind it, you will surely find ways and means to fulfill it. If your goals mean something to you, nothing and no one can hinder you from getting to them. Come up with a game plan to conquer your goals. Aim high, and most importantly have faith and believe that you can do it.
What your mind believes can manifest into your life. Never entertain excuses because it can make you weak and lose focus. When you hit a roadblock, devise another way to go around it. To win in life, you need to stay committed to your decisions but realize that you have to be flexible in your approach.
It is easy to be thankful when everything is going well in your life. The great challenge for us is to actually appreciate life even when things are not turning out as planned. For those who have experienced failure before, you will recognize the initial stage of defensive reaction and falling prey to the blame game. It is usually easier to deflect all faults and avoid responsibility for the circumstance because it takes a lot of guts to admit that you made a mistake. No one is perfect and it is normal to feel this way since we are only human and our ego can get in the way sometimes.
When desperation kicks in and you find yourself looking for an escape, take a moment to forgive yourself first for the slip-up. You never meant to make the wrong decision on purpose but because you did not know better. Things could have turned out differently had you knew what you could have done to avoid the pothole. Just be grateful for the second chance to re-direct your life and make yourself a promise to turn the situation around. Even if you got into an awful situation because you trusted someone, never blame the person but thank them. Like you, they had not known better and had no intention to harm you. Even if they did, you learn to let go and let life take its’ course. Payback comes from not hurting others as vengeance but by recovering from your failure and showing up as a better version of yourself.
Discipline Is The Bridge
One thing I have learnt through my own journey of rising back from failure is to keep on moving. It does not matter the measure of your action as long as you start somewhere. You will thank yourself later for pushing through despite the pain. Start by planning for your day and fill it with productive activities to keep you occupied. Begin slowly to find a pattern that suits you and start to integrate good habits into your routine as well. This may seem tedious but view it as an opportunity to start anew. It will require you to be consistent and self-discipline will be your best friend. Without discipline, it will be easy to lean back on your past bad habits and end up inhibiting your progress.
Without discipline, bad habits will rear their ugly heads as you find other means to distract yourself from the pain. That is why you find some people falling trap to addiction after their life took an unexpected turn. In order not to be part of the statistics, we have to do something different and act when others decide to sit back and choose the easy way out. Being disciplined comes from making a decision to never let anything get in your way to get back up. Make yourself accountable for your own progress and if you find it tough to do it on your own, get a buddy or close confidante to help you in this journey.
How Many Failures Should You Endure?
We often emphasise that giving up is not the way and that we should embrace failure and start over again. But, how many times do we have to fail before we give up and try something else? Well, first you need to identify whether the reason for the failure was from repeating the same ways expecting a different outcome. Once you established the fact that you have given your all and tried your best with multiple approaches, perhaps you may consider getting a second opinion on your dilemma. By no means admit defeat easily and forget about your goal because having one gives you purpose in life.
The truth is that if big goals were easy, everyone would achieve them and be successful and rich. Thus, when it comes to taking hits after hits that life throws you, brace yourself and train your endurance to take it. There are plenty of incredibly successful people in the world who have endured endless failures and did not relent. They keep moving forward no matter what and never allow their failure or shortcomings to define them. Just as J.K Rowling put it bluntly, “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all-in which case, you fail by default.”
Failures are like the plague we try to avoid, but embrace it as a lesson learnt if it so happens and become wiser from it. As cliché as it may sound, be like a phoenix who rises from its own ashes. The Phoenix bird may be a myth, but, you can prove that it is possible to come back again stronger even after getting burnt. Use your current situation to fuel you instead of hinder you.
In conclusion, see failure in a positive light and you will realize that the down moments in your life actually moulded you to be the person you are today. It is important to understand that as no two persons are alike, never compare your journey with others. Making comparisons serves no purpose unless you learn from other successful people and apply their strategies to succeed instead. Secondly, build resistance and mental strength by rising from failure after failure to be a better version of yourself. It helps to zoom in on the meaning and purpose you attach to your goals. As you fall, remind yourself of the reason you started and it will be a push factor to keep you going on.
When you slowly work your way back up, train yourself to be disciplined because it will be a tough journey, and having self-restraint and control over your mind is necessary to influence the action taken. Last but not least, learn to be grateful because no matter how ugly the situation you find yourself in, there is a beauty somehow if you look for it.
If things feel bleak for you right now, know that people fail but the experience is never the same from one person to the other. Let us not sugarcoat things and undermine the effect that failure can have on someone and their well-being. Some may not take it too well, and that is why if we know someone going through a tough time getting back up, reach out and help any possible way you can. You never know if a simple deed can change a person’s life. As a fellow human being, show concern and help by giving hope to others just as you receive from those around you.
© 2021 Brian
Brian (author) from Kuala Lumpur Malaysia on June 03, 2021:
Great to find another Les Brown's fan in you, Ms Dora! I love listening to Mr. Brown and his speeches touch me deep. I especially appreciate his perspective on life and the journey he has gone through to be who he is today. He is a great example of walk the talk.
Thank you for appreciating the story I have to share. Appreciate the feedback and will keep in mind to do better!
Pawan Kumar from India on June 02, 2021:
Hey Dora, amazing article. Thanks for sharing :)
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on June 02, 2021:
I love Les Browne's work. Really good motivational stuff, and yo do a good job of sharing from your own experience. You may want to make two or three articles rather than such a long one. Just a suggestion for an easier read.You deserve to be read.