Everybody screws up – at work and in life. It’s part of being human. But the true test is where you go from there. Do you generally acknowledge the misstep, learn the lesson and move on?
Here are five tips that will help you keep growing from failure:
1. Accept responsibility
Don’t be ashamed to admit fault. A willingness to own up to mistakes is a key indicator of maturity and integrity. It’s also surprisingly rare. So next time there’s a mess at work or at home, claim your role and commit to avoiding a repeat performance in the future.
Don’t go too far with this though and start taking the heat for things that aren’t your fault. Have a healthy amount of self-respect!
2. Appreciate the lesson
However painful, failure can often be turned into a positive by learning from it. Here in my neck of the woods, we’ve had several situations where an account we lost taught us valuable lessons we later applied to win other deals. Yes, it hurt to lose the first account, but our team learned things from the experience that we’ll each continue to benefit from for the rest of our careers.
3. Don’t dwell
This one is probably the hardest, because you can’t always control where your brain decides to fixate. That’s why it’s so important to find the lesson in every situation – it’s hard to regret something that ended up making you a better friend, employee, coworker, or all-around person.
Someone once asked me how I let go of regrets, and I had to think about it because there are so very many. In addition to finding the lesson in the situation itself, I try to do something positive that I wouldn’t have done otherwise. It doesn’t necessarily have to be related – just something constructive that I wouldn’t want to change.
Then, when I find myself thinking, “I really wish that (first thing) wouldn’t have happened,” I can counter it with a, “No, I’m actually glad it did happen. Because if it weren’t for that, this (second thing) wouldn’t be – and I definitely don’t want to give this up!”
As an aside, one time I had a falling out with a friend and bought a hamster to take my mind off the whole ordeal. I’d wanted a hamster for a while, but this dust-up was just the catalyst I needed to make the dream come true.
Of course my friend and I patched things up, and as an added bonus we all enjoyed two years with the most lovable hamster ever – Richard the Siberian dwarf, rest his furry little soul. How could I ever regret that fight? Without it, I never would have known Richard.
4. Remember you have plenty of company
Oprah Winfrey, Stephen King, Lady Gaga, Lucille Ball. These are just a few examples of folks who refused to accept failure as final. Yes, their life stories may be out of the ordinary, but their experience is not. Everybody fails:
5. Feel the fear fade
The more hits you take, the less you should be afraid of putting yourself out there. Because you’ve failed before and guess what? You survived!
Now go forth into this new year and remember – everybody you meet, no matter how successful, has fallen on their face. Hard. The opportunity comes in learning from each experience rather than wallowing in “what-ifs.”