How to Own Your Failures and Use Them to Grow

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(Photo: iStock)

Everyone loves hearing a good success story, but we immediately freak out or cringe the moment failure pops up. What is it about failure that scares so many of us? For years, we’ve looked at our disappointments as a finality of sorts that denote self-worth and our capacity to meet a desired objective or task.

However, according to a study published in the journal Psychological Science, failing to accomplish a task led to a much broader, more positive motivational effect on our well-being as opposed to flat-out obtaining the reward we seek.

Whether it’s a bad relationship or a career ambition, it can be hard to come to terms with failure but it can help change your life for the better if you let it. By building a few personal daily habits, redefine what the intimidating “F-word” means to you and reclaim it as an educational tool in bettering yourself. Success might bring power, but so does failure.

Become accountable
The phrase “I didn’t do it” might have been cute when we were five, but not so much today. When owning your failures, try to take complete responsibility, as this validates accountability and trust — especially in a leadership setting. None of us are perfect and we all make mistakes — take the late Steve Jobs as an example. When building the Apple empire, Jobs faced a ton of failure along the way but the difference between his failure and success was accountability — something he knew as a natural part of creative innovation and passion.

Trust your bravery
If you have ever met someone who said they never failed, know that you really have it better with all of your experiences. If you never fail, living life to the fullest becomes difficult. How do you know your strengths and weaknesses? This balance helps you understand how profound your fears are and in what way you can overcome them by exploring the best parts of yourself. Not only does it test our strength in adversity, but it also shows us how hard we can push ourselves in order to gain what we want. Failures are not etched in you, so stop dwelling on what doesn’t work and trust what does.

Become more mindful
Failure has a funny way of consuming our motivations, passions and positivity. But if you believe you can be bigger than your personal fiasco and regard this chapter as a “yellow brick road,” you’re on the right path. Become more attentive to help you better understand yourself, your capacity for growth and the foundations of your passion. It’s easy to cry and sulk, but redefine your limitations and find blessings in disappointments through patience and gratitude. Not only do you become more mature through mindfulness, but you formulate a foundation rooted in confidence and self-awareness.

Create self-belief
This might sound harsh, but failure is inevitable. While some of us would like to stay under the covers and avoid this aspect of life altogether, it’s important to never personalize failure. When we do this, we are imposing damage to our self-esteem and weakening our potential for development. Instead, take time away from others if need be and create an effective dialogue with yourself through establishing mantras or positive affirmations. There is nothing like a little optimistic and pleasant pep talk with yourself! Fear is only as deep as you allow it to be.

Be more honest
When you’re honest and upfront about failure, you not only demonstrate integrity but help prove a point in how failure is a relatable aspect to life. It’s easy to point blame and hide behind disappointments out of shame, but that only hinders our own productivity, understanding and mindfulness. Failure is a constant learning opportunity, but only if we allow it to be. By becoming proactive about a problem and taking initiative in claiming where things went wrong, you build trust, character and an incredible insight that not only helps you, but others too. When you’re more honest with yourself, you end up seeing personal potential more clearly and realized that failure can guide us to show us who we really are.