Failure is a word that most people almost never want to be associated with. It conjures up images of discomfort, disappointment and heartache.
However, when you hear stories of extremely successful people, one of the first things highlighted is how they failed far more than they succeeded. How can something that potentially creates a great deal of pain and suffering be the path that leads to so much success?
Successful people feel the same unconfortable effects of failure as everyone else, but they have a different relationship with failure. Rather than seeing it as the end, they see it as the starting point for where they are actually trying to go.
Party of The Learning Process
The fact is that everyone has failed over and over in their life. All of us fell over and over while learning to walk. Likewise, many recall the skinned knees that came from falling when learning to ride a bike.
Successful people recognize that failure is important because it illuminates what does not work, allowing them to start again on a potentially more fruitful path.
Unfortunately, many people forget that failure is part of the learning process. As they get older they stop pushing themselves, choosing to “settle” for a perceived safer path. the result is a life far short of someone’s true potential.
Life is not like a game of Monopoly. In the popular board game, drawing the wrong card can send you all the way back to where you started, forcing you to give up all of your gains.
Successful people also recognize that life is not like this. If they fail in something, they do not give up all of knowledge and progress they have made up to that point. Rather they use what they have learned for a new path.
Rather than going backward, successful people see each set back as a process of “failing forward”. Each time they stumble or hit a road block they are closer to their goal. They then take the information, knowledge and experience they have gained to move forward from that point.
What may appear to others as a never ending chain of failures, successful people see as stepping stones to their goal.
Thomas Edison said it best in an interview with American Magazine:
I never allow myself to become discouraged under any circumstances. i recall that after we had conducted thousands of experiments on a certain project without solving the problem, one of my associates, after we had conducted the crowning experiment and it had proved a failure, expressed discouragement and disgust over our having failed ‘to find out anything.’ I cheerily assured him that we had learned something. For we had learned for certain that the thing couldn’t be done that way, and that we would have to try some other way. We sometimes learn a lot from our failures if we have put into all the effort the best thought and work we are capable of.