How To Use Failure As Powerful Lessons In Life

5 Ways to Reframe a Setback to Your Advantage

Failure is a powerful word. It’s hard not to be triggered in some way when we hear it being mentioned.

What is it about the word failure that makes it so powerful?

Some of the reasons may include:

  • Success is much better than failure.
  • Failure implies we didn’t achieve something we wanted.
  • Failure has a stigma or negative connotation to it.
  • Failure implies we weren’t good enough in some way.
  • Failure can be mentally, emotionally and physically damaging to us.

We’ve all experienced some type of failure in life. What if we can reframe failure to our advantage?

I’m reminded of a quote by Winston Churchill, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

My belief is everything is a learning experience and we only fail when we quit on something that’s still meaningful or important to us.

Lessons you learn from failure

What Can Failure Teach You?

  1. It will help you clarify your priorities.
  2. It will help make you more resilient and persistent.
  3. It will help you make better decisions in the future.
  4. It will make you take a new course of action.
  5. It will give you more experience and make you a wiser person.

If we can train ourselves to use our failures in life to our advantage, we can become better in who we are, what we do and how we do things.

5 Ways to Use Failure to Your Advantage

  1. Take time to acknowledge what happened. It’s not beneficial to deny or pretend something didn’t happen. It also doesn’t help to make an event or experience worse than it really was. We have to look at it in its entirety and also acknowledge our part in it. If something involves us, then we had some part to play in it.
  2. Look at it from a new perspective. Failure can broaden our perspective which means we’ll be able to look at things from different points of view. The late Wayne Dyer said, “When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at begin to change.” By looking at things from different perspectives, we’ll gain new insights and awareness into how we can do things differently next time.
  3. Define what failure means to you. For some people, failure is a mark against their identity. For others, it triggers new labels they give themselves such as, “I am a failure,” or “Nothing I do ever works out,” or “Why does things like this always happen to me?” We have to define what failure means to us and what our expectations were when we consider something to be a failure.
  4. Reframe the experience. Whenever something happens in our lives, we give it some type of meaning. If we deem something to be negative, we’re more likely to create a negative meaning. A more empowering approach is to take something we deem to be a negative experience and give it a positive meaning.
  5. Identify the gap. Failure is an opportunity to take a new approach. Whenever we come up short of an outcome, there will be a gap created between where we are and where we wanted to be. There may have been something missing or inadequate in our approach. Our job is to define what that gap was, then take new actions to reach the outcome we want.

Things to Remember About Failure

  • Failure is inevitable if you’re taking risks in life. The other option is to play safe, which is not a live fully lived.
  • Learn to redefine what failure means to you. Embrace it, view it as a learning experience.
  • If you haven’t failed recently, it means you’re not challenging yourself enough and aren’t willing to take risks.

Failure is not something we should hide from, be ashamed or embarrassed about. We’ve all experienced them and will continue to do as we’re evolving and becoming the best version of ourselves. The more we can train ourselves to look at everything in our lives as learning experiences, the less likely we’ll generate negative emotions when things don’t go our way.

Action Step: Revisit something recently that you had deemed to be a failure. Use the ideas mentioned above to redefine that experience so that you can use it in a more empowering way.

Question: What is another way to use failure as powerful lessons in life?

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