The fine art of Failing

One way or another, we all experience failure in life.

Failing exams, Failing in a relationship, Failing to win, all of the above? Failing to plan, Failing to achieve a desired result or worse, Failing to try at all. It’s how each of us deal with said disappointments and setbacks that separates winners from losers.

The reasons why we fail usually have less to do with our innate physical and cognitive abilities and more to do with flaws in our  planning, execution, lack of persistence, inability to learn from past mistakes, excuse making, distractions or perhaps the goal was never right for us in the first place.

Learning to deal with failure in a manner that doesn’t make your situation worse is a life skill and learning to deal with failure in a manner that makes your situation better is the mastery of that skill

How to deal with failure. (With a little inspo from Henry Ford)

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, only this time more intelligently”- HF

  • Learn from your mistakes

Or better yet, from the mistakes of those who went before you. If you want different results, you have to try different approaches. So things didn’t go the way wanted, now you must analyse what went wrong. Did you make a mistake or several? How are you going to make sure you don’t repeat them? Did you involve the wrong people? Did someone let you down? Delegation is important but if you want something done, do it yourself. Did you work hard enough? Did you work smart i.e. use your time efficiently? Could you have given more? Do you want it badly enough? Figure out the ‘why?’. Now you need to decide how you’re going to go about trying again, what you’re going to change and what you’re going to do differently to ensure success this time

“Don’t find fault, find a remedy” – HF

  • Lose the excuses.

They are bullsh*t. Life will inevitably throw hurdles in your way but using them as excuses for not achieving your goals is a cop out. My friend Sarah Quinn can run 100m with 10 hurdles in her way faster than any of the rest of us can flat. She expects these obstacles and adapts her work and technique to the challenges in front of her. As a result she can jump the highest. We need to anticipate and expect hurdles because the road to success is rarely flat. No self-pity on the way to success either, it will only hold you back. If you find yourself thinking “why me” or “this is so unfair”. Sit back, take a moment to really think about what happened and more importantly what you can do now. Be real with yourself. Only you have the power to adjust how you approach your goals in order to overcome things getting in your way. Even if at first they seem too big to conquer, you owe it to yourself to always try and try again until you’re getting to your finish line faster than most would’ve without any obstacles at all. That’s when you’ll jump the highest.

  • Don’t let failure into your heart.

Your confidence runs the risk of taking a serious wrap when faced with setbacks. Take failure on the chin and don’t let it in any further.  Not achieving desired results should not affect your confidence, that’s not necessary or productive. I found out I failed 2 exams last week. Intially I didn’t mind, I was annoyed to have to pay 300 to repeat them and to miss a trip to Thailand with my friends in August. I certainly am not going to take a hit to my confidence. The I didn’t fail because I’m not intelligent enough, I simply did not study nearly enough. The distinction is important. I spent alot of time inefficiently in the library.I am to be totally honest with myself, the time I spent there actually concentrating on my work and not on my phone, on social media or gone for coffee,  ammounts to about 20%. My priorities were training and getting my new Instagram off the ground so that I could launch my blog in the Summer which I am  I have to make changes in order to pass my exams in the future, changes to my priorities and to the level of work I am honestly putting in but no changes to my belief in my abilities. It’s quite irrelevant that all my friends passed, their circumstances and effort levels were different. I’m a big girl now and I know that comparing myself to others is a big waste of my precious energy. I need my confidence for life, i’m not going to give it away because of a failure, or two in this case.

  • Time to let go?

Are you failing because the ultimate goal is simply not what is right for you? If this is the case, at some point you need to learn that “letting go” is not the same as “giving up”. Giving up is selling yourself short and the only way to truly fail. Letting go is freeing yourself from an idea that was never right for you in the first place; be it a toxic relationship or som kind’ve career advancement. Sometimes we get it wrong when setting out our priorities, sometimes we’re so busy that we lose touch with our inner voice. We lose sight of what we should be working towards. It may take falling down a few times to realise we weren’t moving in the right direction to begin with. Letting go and giving up are two completely different concepts. Take some time out to yourself and learn to listen to the part of you that knows what will be truly good for you; Is this worth another fight? Will succeeding at this ultimately make you happier? If that answer is yes then do not let go or give up, work harder and make it happen. If the answer is no then regardless of how much time or effort you’ve already put in, letting go of this idea is the right thing and will only make space for better things in your life. Only you can decide which is right.

Take Time to heal.

After the initial blow(s) give yourself some time to be sad, disappointed, angry. I like to get drunk with my friends and cry hysterically to someone I barely know but hey, everyone to their own. You might not agree but I think it’s necessary to feel the pain of losing before you can come back better than ever. This pain, combined with a little perspective later will only drive you on. I ran my first national race in 5 years yesterday. I had built this race up so much in my head. I just wanted a medal and that was that. I wanted a sign that my efforts were taking me in the right direction, I wanted some credibility and to show my friends, family, followers and most of all myself that I’m not wasting my time, that I’m actually ok at this running craic. I was fourth and so did not win the medal I felt I needed and deserved. I was heart broken. In the immediate post 800m pain with lactic acid leaking into my brain all I could think was ‘What’s the point of this torture,  if it just makes me feel this shit’ I knew this feeling would pass. I let myself feel the pain of not achieving my goal. It felt like I had put what felt like everything into it only to fail. I I thought Perspective would come tomorrow and with that I would learn how to channel my hurt into going at it again. Perspective didn’t come tomorrow, a massive hangover did and it brought doubt and self deprecation with it. So I’m going to ring someone who can force perspective on me, Mother bear.

  • Overcoming your Fear of failure.

A healthy fear of failure is certainly a good thing. It motivates us to work harder, to air a certain amount of caution and to do everything in our power to succeed. It’s when this fear paralyses us into not trying at all that we have a problem. It is only then that this fear becomes a source of limitation and negative energy in your life. A fear of failure which stops you from pursueing your dreams is self-sabotage. You must believe in yourself, things will always stand in your way so don’t allow yourself to be one of them.

We are often afraid of how other people may perceive our shortcomings, and so sometimes it feels easier not to take risks, not to try and achieve our true purpose. Trying makes you vulnerable, It puts your ego on the line and there is a risk of losing face. Get over it, go for it. Your ego won’t be worth much where you’re allowing yourself to plateau anyway.  It’s not about training yourself to be “fearless”, that’s not realistic or smart. It’s about realising that you will be able to deal with the consequences if the original plan doesn’t work out. It’s about realising that there’s always a plan b, c, d etc even if you can’t see it yet. It’s about realising that failure is inevitable but when handled well, it creates the greats.

It’s rarely easy to come back from failure. You must work incredibly hard, possibly with less resources than before. You must look at what is accessible to you now and use it with a more creative mindset. Do not get caught up in defeat, use this time and energy to plan your next move(s) Your attitude is your most powerful resource. Like attracts like. A positive attitude combined with a willingness to work hard in the face of defeat will ultimately attract success(in time). Fail and learn, fail again, learn more, do better with more knowledge than success could’ve ever thought you, leading you to a bigger, better result than your original mindset could’ve dreamed of.

THE END.….(only if you let it be )

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