Everyone has experienced failure sometime. Many have bounced back and converted that into a roaring success later on. Failure is the stepping stone to success, they say. But if we were to decode the process of converting failure into success, one would think of the following steps;

1. Emotional Self Control

Failure will obviously trigger a lot of emotions in us. We may feel anger, hurt, disappointment and much more. It’s a good idea to allow these emotions, they are normal. However, it is equally important to not get completely sucked into them and start thinking rationally. While this may be easier said than done, many successful people have done this time and again. Of course our personality plays a role here but we do have a natural tendency to recover from any setbacks. As Carl Rogers suggests, Life’s tendency is life-wards. Banking on this tendency, we need to simply start choosing our responses and that starts changing our emotional state.

2. Accept Failure

Once the rationality is back, we would be well served by accepting failure. A lot of energy gets wasted in justifying, covering up and denying failure. These are all our coping mechanisms. At times we get so busy with all this, that proving a point to ourselves or others becomes our sole purpose. And that draws us and others into many surreptitious behavioural processes that ultimately script another failure. Accepting our failure, however, requires a healthy self respect. It’s fine to fail once in a while. Failing does not make us a failure. It’s only when we accept our failure that we release a lot of energy that propels us into right action.

3. Learn Your Lessons

Failure is an event with tremendous potential. We need to dive deep and analyse it with a rational mind. If we are able to think clinically, keep the person out of the event, it would do a world of good. A failure could tell us a lot about ourselves, our choice making processes, what works, what doesn’t, our self image, belief system, world view, emotional maturity, what situations lead to what kind of challenges, our people skills, thinking ability. Of course, we need to have a fine mind and maturity to do this deep thinking but talking to someone and seeking help in this process, is always a good idea. Involve your best friend, well wisher, your buddy, coach, mentor or someone you trust. Only, choosing a right person who has a sound analytical mind, non-judgmental attitude, not a pronounced need to solve anyone’s problems is who we needs here.

4. Be Resilient

Resilience is one of the most important qualities for our existence. Resilience is our ability to bounce back after a setback. Zen describes character called a Fool. A Fool is a person with childlike trust. His trust is broken several times, yet he trusts his surroundings unconditionally. Resilience is that fool in us, it’s our intuitive nudge full of faith to surmount the challenge. The quality that gets Japanese, Germans build their nation after annihilation is the same that gets Mumbaikar to work, the morning after terror attacks.  If we fail at a ring toss game at the fair, our impulse pushes us to go for another one, doesn’t it? In real life, impulse is the same, only the game changes. We need to embrace that impulse for its life giving qualities.

5. Challenge Yourself Again

Look for another challenge. Here, all our analyses from step 3 should guide us well. It pays to know what’s challenged in the new adventure. It gives us a little heads up to prepare for it. Our new adventure needs to be in line with who we are, our risk appetite and our capability. I have often seen people who fail once, take on a much bigger challenge just to prove themselves a point. And then there are others who peg themselves really low and become risk averse. McLeland’s Achievement Motivation indicates that achievers have an ability to assess their real potential and regulate risk accordingly. In other words, every failure is a feedback about our capability and our responses. But if we don’t challenge ourselves again, we will never explore new horizons.

6. Seek Support

Seeking support doesn’t make one a lesser mortal. As a matter of fact, most successful people have had occasional failures and someone nudging them out of it. So many leaders today have coaches and mentors. However, seeking support should not be an event but a process. A rational, clinical analysis should ideally highlight areas of further work. We need to accept those fully and act on them. Such actions have to be in alignment with who we are.  For instance, if you are an introvert, your plan should not have items that expect you to be an extrovert. You would be better of thinking creative ways of relating that would suit your introversion. Someone who knows us well and could guide us through a new challenge considering who we are, would be such a relief. We would always have someone to talk to, share our feelings, and bounce off our ideas with. This takes the loneliness of doing arduous tasks away.

So indeed, failure is a stepping stone to success. Let your failures not stop you. If you deploy the process above, you would be able to turn it into your success eventually. Failing doesn’t mean being a failure. I loved a statement I heard in Tom Heartman’s radio program which says, `there is no mistake, only learning and there is no failure, only feedback’. So just receive it, prepare for your next adventure and go for it.

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