On a warm summer’s day, I eagerly prepared the ingredients needed to make those delightfully light pastries called “cream puffs.” It was my first attempt, and I was excited to see the results. Another first for me was using a pastry bag to squeeze the dough onto the baking paper. Feeling like a professional baker, I twisted and squeezed the mixture in a spiral motion.
Hmmm. . . . It seemed that using a pastry bag wasn’t as easy as it looked. Although the cream puffs were still tasty when I took them out of the oven, they resembled more of a pancake than the proud, erect shape of a true cream puff. I felt a little disappointed after all that effort, but I knew that in order to get the desired result, I would have to ditch the pastry bag and start all over again. Once I did this, the cream puffs came out just the way I wanted. I inhaled the beautiful aroma of chocolate and vanilla and enjoyed the sweet smell of success.
Instead of letting that minor mistake have the final word, I saw it as a learning experience. Unfortunately, too often we think of failure or making a mistake as something bad. Everyone loves a success story, but we cringe at failure. We see it as a negative, something to be avoided at all costs. But success and failure go hand in hand. Failure can be our friend rather than our foe if we embrace its benefits. Following are four ways that failure can help us improve in life and be a success.
1. failure provides a reality check
Sometimes failing at something, no matter how much you may want it, is a sign that something isn’t right. Use failure as a light to reveal what’s really going on with your situation. Try to understand why you weren’t successful, then use that information as you try again.
One way to find out what does work is to discover what doesn’t work. Set realistic goals. Once you’ve worked through the causes of your past disappointment, work on setting a more realistic goal for the future.
2. failure builds character
Going through failure is a remarkable test of your courage, your determination, and your mind-set. Until you’ve been through the worst, you can’t truly appreciate the best. Failure is like a benchmark that reveals how strong you are. In fact, failure is unavoidable if you are to succeed in life. As Brook Stewart, pastor of South Sydney’s See Change church, says, “Failure can sometimes teach you what success never can.”
Unfortunately, many people don’t know how to overcome failure, and they become immobilized by it. Psychologist Marie-Rose Paterson explained to me how people who are suffering anxiety avoid uncomfortable situations because of the fear of failure. She says that “although this behavior may prevent further anxiety, they miss out on opportunities and developing coping skills.”
The ability to overcome failure is one big difference between successful and mediocre people. Keep your confidence in yourself despite the failure. Of course, you need to put forth a lot of effort in order to learn as much as possible from the failure, but you do have the ability to make your dream come true. So don’t give up!
3. failure drives you on
You can use the experience of failure to your advantage. So let it spur you on to do better next time. Use it as a tool for determination and grit to drive toward success.
Failure happens for a reason. It’s there to give you the wisdom you need to succeed. Each failure you face increases your wisdom and brings you one step closer to success.
If you have this mind-set, you’ll see failure differently. You’ll understand that each failure is an opportunity to learn. The thought of giving up is tempting, but you should keep on trying with the same enthusiasm as when you began—otherwise your next effort won’t be effective.
4: failure builds problem-solving skills
When faced with problems, we have the opportunity to use our problem-solving abilities and critical thinking skills to arrive at a practical and effective solution.
Once we’re aware of our failure, it’s important to understand the root cause. This requires careful thought to ensure that the right lessons are learned and the right changes are put in place. It also allows for positive self-reflection and intentional building of confidence to overcome challenges.
Failure can help you look at your situation from a different perspective. Problem solving sets you up to reapproach the task that you initially failed at, motivating you to keep persisting through difficult times.
The ability to overcome failure is one big difference between successful and mediocre people. Keep your confidence in yourself despite the failure. Of course, you need to put in a lot of effort and learn as much as possible from the failure, but you do have the ability to make your dream come true!
how to move on from failure
- Take time to process your feelings. If you try to fix or move past your disappointment before knowing how you feel, you may act without thinking.
- Not dealing with painful feelings can lead to health problems, such as chronic pain, sleep deficiency, and even heart disease.
- Avoid repeating the same mistakes. Your new approach should not include any of the strategies that may have caused your last approach to fail.
- Create a plan B. Even well thought out plans can fail due to unforeseen complications. Make sure you always have a solid backup plan.
- Keep dreaming big dreams. Always have your destination in mind. Spend time to visualize them, and let the dreams energize you. Let them make you passionate and enthusiastic.
Julie Guirgis is an international freelance writer who lives in Australia.