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Failure : A Powerful Learning Tool

Failure : A Powerful Learning Tool

Your appetite for risk and your readiness to start again will decide how far you go in your life and career 
However, the good news is, we all have the capability of coping with this fear or handling it well. That is exactly what high-achievers in various domain do. They do not fear failure. They face it squarely. They don’t confront it. They embrace it and dance with it. It works wonders.

A failure is a big teacher. A powerful teacher, too. It not only teaches you by giving you some valuable lessons but also strengthens you. It prepares you for further challenges and opens up more doors for you.

We are all born with two basic fears.

  1. Fear of Falling.
  2. Fear of Loud Noises.

Others we accumulate and build on these as we grow. Tony Robbins classifies types of behaviors, based on our beliefs, as

  1. I am not good enough.
  2. I am not loved (or cared about) enough.

Most of us have heard the story about how Thomas Alva Edison failed 1,000 times in his experiment before inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 1,000 ways that won’t work.” Now, that’s a great lesson. If he had given up, probably the world would’ve been a different place. We all take electricity for granted. However, someone toiled day and night and gave the world a great gift.

Will you also like to give a gift to humanity? Think. Is it worth it? Working with new ideas, thinking, experimenting, creating. Don’t you think it would be great fun? I have been wondering what would have happened if Edison’s parents also told him to stop wasting time and instead study hard to score high marks which would land him a good job.

One thing is clear and that is that fear is absolutely normal. Even the best experience fear from time to time. The key is to not let fear hold you back and prevent you from taking action and go after what you want in life.

When you fail, it’s not YOU who fails. It’s an idea that fails. You are you. Nothing has changed. You remain the same. Perhaps, you come out a little stronger. All you need to do is to analyse the cause and the circumstances under which the idea failed, suitably modify it, take corrective measures and try again. In the worst case, discard it and move forward. You become wealthier with some more new lessons.

Failure is simply a matter of perception. While a faint-hearted individual may consider it as the ‘end of the world,’ those with a strong mindset will regard it as an opportunity. Fear of failure, also known as atychiphobia, can subconsciously lead to undermine your progress and be a hurdle in the achievement of your goals. It can as well lead you to a fear of the possibility of a larger failure in the future and curb your initiative and drive. Be absolutely conscious of this.

Whenever we set out do anything in life, there are some chances of failure. If we continue to focus on that, we are bound to fail. When we focus on success, failure does not come near us. Believe in yourself. Imagine, dream, visualize success. If you believe in success and believe in yourself, success has no option.

A few simple, but practical ideas that can help you brave a situation and not get affected by this Fear (FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real) are as follows:

Learn to think more positively: This might seem the toughest to do initially. Whenever you set out to do a task, think positively about it. Deliberately. If the thought that comes to your mind is “What if I fail?” quickly replace it by asking yourself, “What if I succeed?”

Envision the worst-case scenario: Close your eyes and visualise the end. The culmination of your task. Imagine yourself being felicitated. Feel successful. This visualisation gives you the mental strength to succeed.

Have an alternate Plan-B: Always be prepared with an alternate contingency plan. “If somehow this does not work, I will complete the task with that.”

Effective decision-making: Make effective and positive decision-making a habit.

A focused goal-setting: Set goals fearlessly. Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally to fail, in the worst case scenario. And then fearlessly move ahead.

Fear is just a figment of imagination. A perception. It’s easy to overcome it by constant practice. Let the fear of failure never deter us from our determination of achieving goals. It’s a matter of choice: To believe you will succeed or believe you will fail.

This is an extract from my first “Design Your Life.”

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