Using Failure to Spur Innovation

It hurts to fail. The feeling of defeat can make even the hardest of workers feel worthless. It’s hard to face the reality that your work or dreams won’t live up to your expectations, and giving up might seem like the next step. However, failure teaches important lessons, and though it seems contradictory, it can often lead to success. Failure gives you the necessary experience you need to improve, but more importantly, it teaches you to get back up.

One of the most important life lessons to learn is that failure is not permanent — it is simply another step along the road. Sure, this step can hurt and it might leave you bruised, but recovering from it can be the most rewarding experience of your life. Many famous writers, entrepreneurs, and painters went through many such painful steps to get themselves to a place of success. Realizing that everyone faces failure at some point and knowing that so many others have gotten past it, you can use failure to propel you forward towards success.

Importance of Failure

The idea of failure is rather contradictory of itself. Though everyone wants to succeed, being afraid of or thinking you are immune to failure can damage your future. According to Western Governors University (WGU), two ways that failing is important are that it shows you your opportunities, and it’s a sign that you are trying new things.

WGU compares failing to athletic training: in order to get better, you need to focus on your weaknesses, not your strengths. The university also states that not failing can be a sign that you don’t try new things, and that you only stick to what you already know. Though it might feel good to always know what you are doing, it’s also a sign that you are not expanding your capabilities or knowledge.

Failing can help spur your innovation and creativity by helping you see beyond your original idea. When you first come up with something you are passionate about, you have a great drive to make it work. You spend hours thinking about it and how to make it better, but you are still stuck on the original idea. Failing can help you push past it and expand the original idea into an even better success.

Moving Past Failure Productively

Perhaps the hardest part about failing is getting back up. It can be hard to get past the thought that you aren’t good enough, and the thought of failing again can be terrifying. If you find yourself in this situation, you should try reframing the situation in another point of view. It’s okay to feel upset when things don’t happen how you planned, but don’t get stuck on it.

After your initial reaction is over, take deep breaths and think about your situation. What happened? How did happen? Why didn’t you succeed? Don’t go about it in a self-deprecating way, but think about it analytically. Maybe you need to develop more skills before you try again, maybe the timing wasn’t right, maybe you just need to keep trying.

Make sure to balance your mindset. While you don’t want to blame yourself for everything, not taking any blame will also blind you from seeing a solution in the future. Focus on the fact that by failing, you have more drive to do better, and you already have some experience to help you try again. However, if failing makes you realize that you are not where you want to be, embrace that and make a change in your life. While you shouldn’t run away from a challenge, you also shouldn’t stay in a place where you are unhappy.

Moving On to Success

The worst part about failing is losing sight of your goals, but getting up after failing can help you realize that failing isn’t permanent. Staying positive about reaching your goals can be hard, but failing can teach you a new meaning for success.

One example is failing financially. Going bankrupt can feel like the end of your financial success, but according to financial experts at Fiscal Tiger, it is possible to repair your credit after bankruptcy with hard work in four to five years, and it will fall off after 10 years. It’s not an easy process, but by strategically using credit cards, it can be done. Other failures in life can similarly take a while to mend, but ultimately can be fixed.

Another example is failing at work. For instance, a project manager can fail at their job if they produce low-quality work and end up with an unhappy client. However, that project manager can learn from their mistakes and make risk assessments, check the quality of their suppliers, and use a better organizational system.

Accepting the fact that everybody makes mistakes, being kind to yourself, and not letting errors keep you down is how you can turn failing into success. They can even help you take a deeper look into your ideas and get farther than you ever would have gone if you had kept on only trying the things you are good at.

 

By Devin Morrissey

About the author

Devin prides himself on being a jack of all trades; his career trajectory is more a zig zag than an obvious trend, just the way he likes it. He pops up across the Pacific Northwest, though never in one place for long. You can follow him more reliably on Twitter.

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