Rethink your relationship with failure— how you define it, and how you deal with it— and you may be surprised what it offers. Here’s how to take back the power and make failure into success.
How To Deal With Adversity
A popular Silicon Valley mantra encourages you to “fail fast, fail often.”
If taken literally, that could be a reckless directive. But its under lying intention is to encourage you to learn quickly from past mistakes and leverage that knowledge to help strengthen your next endeavour. It means that the demise of one thing is the seed of the next. Growth, however, doesn’t emerge simply as a result of failure.
The key to limiting your “Losers’ Lounge” failure fiestas is active reflection. Jonathan Haidt, in The Happiness Hypothesis, speaks to the power of cultivating resilience. The argument goes that you need to experience adversity to grow, and without hard- earned growth, you’ll have little long- term happiness.
So how do you grow from adversity?
It’s not achieved passively— one does not grow merely by experiencing “bad” things. Nor is it achieved by quickly rushing into the next thing/person/project.
Rather, it is through the deliberate processing of an event— the “sense- making,” as Haidt refers to it. Haidt says this sense- making should be a written reflection of your thoughts, put down on paper just for you. External action and the constant articulation of our every thought and feeling is now a societal default.
But we need to regularly retreat into reflection before we can act again from a place of strength. Studies show that writing about adversity is more than a Dear Diary pity party; it’s a simple yet powerful method for growing stronger as a result of failure. So let the ink flow.
Know Your Own Breaking Point
Lest you think I’m failure’s cheerleader, allow me to clarify: Failure will happen. And it should. And it will suck. And the more you deny that fact, the less equipped you’ll be to capitalise on the tough love gifts it bears.
But complacency is not the answer. Failure is not shrug-worthy. It’s hard and humbling. And like heartbreak, the most recent time still stings like the first time. But by developing a strategy for dealing with it, it won’t knock the wind out of you quite so much, making getting back on track that much easier.
But how much failure is too much? It’s important to know how much you can take before you start to truly lose hope. Resilience is a delicate balance between pushing beyond what’s comfortable and yielding to your breaking point. Have reverence for your limits. Failure is a dance. Be sure you’re leading.
THE LAZY LOWDOWN: Top 10 Take-aways
- Fifty- one wrongs don’t always make a right. But they might.
- Fall down, get dirty, stand back up. Repeat.
- Failure is a mental bulldozer: It clears away the brush. Pay attention to what’s left standing.
- Give yourself permission to lose and you acquire the ability to succeed.
- Take it from Zsa Zsa: Sometimes life saves the best for last. Be patient. It’s simple, darling.
- You’re the skipper of your own life. The winds will change, but you’re driving the boat.
- Fortune operates on a pendulum. Be the comeback kid.
- Bob Ross was right: Mistakes can be happy accidents. Shift your perspective.
- Fail better. Know your limits.
- Own failure or it will own you.