4 Ways to Start Living with Failure
Stop being afraid of failure. Learn to live with failure and start living your best life.
Especially in today’s content-loaded world, you see a lot of people talk about how to avoid living like a failure. There’s this article talking about habits that will guarantee your demise.
There’s also this one that outlines the crucial mistakes people make throughout life.
My personal favorite, however, is this Medium post, solely because of the pictures used (seriously, go check it out, after you finish reading this piece).
All of these articles are good, but I think it’s time we flip the problem on its head. Let’s learn to live with our failures instead of trying to avoid them.
Here are a few ways to start living with your failure, and by extension, start living your best life.
1. Laugh at failure
Some say that laughter truly is the best medicine. I would argue whoever came up with that idea has never stubbed their toe on a child’s toy — there’s no amount of laughter that can help with that. However, I do believe laughter can at least help you live with failure.
Well, according to Dr. Brian Harman, a leadership coach, laughter and humor “can improve the levels of psychological safety in workgroups,” and ultimately, trust.
As someone who sings in his apartment whenever he thinks no one is listening, feeling a sense of trust and safety are prerequisites for building confidence.
Therefore, when you laugh at your failure, you’re not making fun of your blunder, you’re making space to accept yourself. This acceptance leads to self-confidence, which *BAM*, leads to success, and being one step further on your journey to living your best life.
2. Turn failure into a learning opportunity
If you think failure is no laughing matter, another way you can live with failure is by changing what it means to fail. Instead of something negative, look at failure as a chance to learn.
For example, let’s say you keep forgetting to grab your wallet (or your mask, in today’s times) on your way out the door. Instead of giving in to shame and self-guilt, use this as an opportunity to create a fool-proof plan for remembering your everyday carry.
Framing failure as a mechanism for learning is a great way to welcome failure into your life. Writer Tanja Trkulja says it best:
Your mistakes are your best teachers. Each error contains the secret key to open the door of your failures, through which you can enter the world of learning.
We all know that learning is important, but learning from failure might be even more important because once you fail, you can pull from direct, first-hand experience.
3. Look on the bright side
Another way to shift your mindset on failure and live with it is to think positively about your mistakes. For me, one of the things that I try to do when I fail or make a mistake is to compare it to the worst thing that could’ve happened.
I encourage you to do the same.
Missed a deadline? Well, it could be worse — there could’ve have been a tech issue that caused you to lose your work!
I also like to remind myself that even some of the most successful people in the world that we admire have failed at one point (cue obligatory Thomas Edison or Michael Jordan story here). While this tactic may not always work, I’m able to minimize the negative associations and paint failure in a positive light.
Finally, you can learn to live with your failure by just forgetting it. Although it seems counterintuitive, learning to forget/move on quickly from failure can help you accept it as a natural part of life.
We only need to look to the world of basketball for real-life examples.
Most players who are considered good shooters discuss having a “Shooter’s Mentality,” which is the belief that no matter how many shots they miss, the next shot they take will go in.
Carmelo Anthony is someone who instantly comes to mind. Throughout his career, Melo’s been able to quickly forget about his misses while maintaining focus on his goal (winning). Even though Anthony is a great player on one of the largest stages in the world, the main point is still applicable: don’t harp on your failure, instead focus on living your best life.
With these tips, you’re ready to start living with failure, rather than fearing it.
To close with a story:
The other day, I was feeling like the king of the world. I was riding the productivity high from not one, but two big tasks completed for the day, nothing could stop me.
Except for one tiny thing: While scheduling my newsletter to send for the next day, I hit PM instead of AM.
Luckily, it seems my readers suffer from insomnia as much as I do. To my surprise, people still read my email. Still, the slight dread I had the next night at 11:08 PM when I realized my mistake was barely just bearable. The irony of it all, the focus of the email was on failure.
I share that short story not to get your sympathy, but to show it’s okay to fail (even in a pandemic).
Especially right now, make sure to forgive yourself; we all need it right now. It doesn’t matter if it’s big, it doesn’t matter if it’s small. Just go ahead and forgive yourself. You deserve it right now.