Get Busted: The Gift of Failure

Photo credit: Hartwig HKD

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” C. S. Lewis

I have been told that people must fail, sometimes many times, before they can succeed. There are countless stories of people who have been rejected, lost their fortunes, were told they will not amount to anything or have failed relationships, only to overcome the obstacles and find enormous success in the aftermath.

So, if failure is part of the formula for success, why are people so afraid of getting busted?

Society is eager to define what success means for people, and each stage of life seems to be judged by what we do or do not do; have or do not have; and accomplish or do not accomplish. Many people fail along the way, and there seems to be harshness and judgment of those individuals in that moment.

No wonder people are afraid to fall short. They are so busy worrying about what people might think that they often miss seeing the gift that failure has to offer. They are running scared from the fear of failure, sometimes more than the failure, itself.

So what’s the solution? Fail. Fail fast, fail hard and then tap into a deeper desire to excel and begin again. There is a richness and wisdom within someone who has failed and come back with inner strength, disciplined determination, gentle compassion and the knowledge that they can survive adversity. Henry Ford realized this when he stated, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again more wisely.”

Allow disappointment to bring you back to your true essence by stripping away any inauthentic expectations, rediscovering your solid values and going forward with what really matters most to you.

When my marriage failed, it became an opportunity for me to redefine who I am and then create a career based on what really mattered to me… empowering others to be their true selves. It’s probably not something I would have done without failing in the life I had created and then getting honest about what was really important to me. I had to overcome the fear of not being able to support myself emotionally, spiritually and financially in order to move forward with grace, courage and determination.

So I ask you, have you gotten busted lately? Has the possibility of failure entered your world and you are afraid of what will happen next? Are you shy about making a mistake, one so big that you might not survive the consequences or perhaps know what to do next? Use this opportunity to discover something bigger and better about yourself.

Oprah Winfrey said, “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.”

I urge you to face any fear, embrace failing often so that you can wildly exceed your own expectations and receive the full benefits of living a complete life with meaning, purpose, pleasure and greatness.

Tips on Embracing Failure:

  • Accept that failure is part of the process.
  • Don’t play the blame game – don’t run or hide from your mistakes, but rather clean up what is necessary.
  • Love the lesson itself.
  • Make the action wrong, as opposed to the person being wrong.
  • Apologize for what you did, not for who you are.
  • Choose staying positive with others by not spreading negativity, even during the disappointment.
  • Be vulnerable, tell on yourself and be human.
  • Refute any shame or guilt.
  • Model failing gracefully and notice your positive personal impact.
  • Be flexible and open to change.
  • Draw conclusions, but don’t make assumptions without knowing the facts first.
  • Assess rather than judge.
  • Be proactive around solutions as opposed to being reactive to fear or pain.
  • Create something new and wonderful from the learning, rather than staying stuck in pity.
  • Don’t continue the insanity by doing the same thing repeatedly.
  • Look to what you did right – there are always positives.
  • Determine what is next – don’t stay stuck in the muck.
  • See all of the possibilities and make conscious choices.
  • Recover and begin again.
  • Trust yourself, especially in the unknown.
  • Resist shutting others out, keep the heart connection alive.
  • Ask for help – it is a sign of strength and courage, not weakness and fear.
  • Stay connected to your heart, to others and to your bigger vision.

In her 2008 Harvard commencement speech, the Harry Potter series author JK Rowling stated, “The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity.”

Welcome the opportunity to get busted, and use it as opportunity to continue to transform into the real you. Even Buddha said, “The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.”

Coaching Questions to Go from Failure to Empowerment:

Think about a past decision when you got busted, the current reality of a recent failure or the possibility of a looming defeat. Consider the questions below:

  1. What led up to the situation, and what do you make of it?
  2. What did you learn about how you faced the circumstances?
  3. If the same thing came up again, what would you do differently?
  4. What is it to transcend your sense of failure?
  5. What matters most to you now?
  6. What would you attempt to do if you know you could not fail?
Meet Jennifer: Life Coach, Inspirational Speaker and Author Jennifer M. Blair is founder of Excavive™ Coaching and Consulting, based in Louisville, Kentucky. Her work focuses on empowering people to pursue their passions, increase their self-confidence, communicate powerfully and build the kind of lives they want to live. If you love these Blog posts, many have been adapted from her first book, The True You: Tools to Excavate, Explore and Evolve, published in 2011.