The right failure

Everyone makes mistakes but there are multiple ways of picking oneself up and moving on

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

—Nelson Mandela

This simple sentence explains much, beautifully. Think of the moments you learnt and grew the most. Were they the times when you achieved something easily, or was it when you faced challenges and maybe, even failed?

Celebrating success feels good, but to learn from failure is when you actually grow. That is probably even more important than success itself. However, few people appreciate this.

Despite hearing and reading about success stories being filled with failures, it is hard to digest failure when it actually knocks on your door. A failure is often accompanied by mental distress, but it depends on us whether we let the failure affect us, or learn from it and move on.

Five pointers

Failure is inevitable: The first and most important step is to understand that failure is inevitable and realise the undeniable wisdom of learning that it brings. As Barack Obama said, “The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere”. Let your failure settle in, take it positively, and half your job is done.

Be compassionate towards yourself: Feel your emotions and give them time to pass. You are bound to feel low, but don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t let these emotions stay within you for too long and give them the power to bring you down.

What went wrong?: The next step is to analyse the process and see what went awry. This may not always be possible independently, so, seek external help if necessary. Write down everything and analyse it point by point till you understand what you could have done at each step to have avoided the situation.

Don’t blame others and circumstances: Often, you will feel that circumstances were not in your favour or that some external influences caused a negative impact. Channelise your efforts in such a way that you don’t let them obstruct you.

Ready, set, go: Now is the time for action. The setback will have made you realise what works and what doesn’t. Draw your strategy with all your understanding and learning.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are personal

The writer isan IIT-Delhi alumnus and a Harvard HCONF scholar. [email protected]

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