what does it mean to fail

What Does it Really Mean to Fail?

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Failure is not be trivialized but rather it needs to be studied. “Studied” because a proper research will help us understand the reason behind our own mistakes. Failure doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the end of everything. It might sting a bit but we just need to see through ourselves. We need to learn and accept failure as a part of our healthy development. We need failure to co-exist with success because it’s how we learn to make progress.

“If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.” – H.G Wells

But since we are automatically conditioned to avoid failure, we often forget to focus on things that matter. And that leads us to a life of mediocrity. It’s not like being mediocre is bad, it’s just that being mediocre is a strange option to choose when you can do better than that. And if you still don’t believe it, here are some of the ways in which failure can actually make you successful.

1) Pillar of success

It’s weird but failure is the best foundation for success. It helps us think laterally, and to absorb a lot from the mistakes done. It helps to keep that intrigue alive where we get the enthusiasm to find solutions instead of just settling mid-way.

For example, if we fall off the bike while learning to ride one day, our brain will either give up or will try to find alternative methods to avoid falling down. That way we eventually learn to ride the bicycle.

2) Collect experience points

We all have played games at some point in our lives and we know the pain of the character dying as you play the game. But, if you have noticed carefully, we learn not to make the same mistake that we did which actually got us killed. Even though we do get a lot of chances, and maybe more chances than we’ll often get in life, each time we die, we learn what to avoid and that adds to our expert points. In real life, we might not get a lot of chances but we do get few, so take notes and utilize the chances you get. So in the words of Coco Chanel:

Coco Chanel Quote

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3) Build character

The more we fail, the more we realise the importance of hard work. This gives one strength of character as we start to realise that every problem we face in life can be dealt with if we just work hard enough. Failing at something doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the world. We can get up and build again. When we understand that, we prevail.

4) Work Harder

Instead of focusing all of our strength into not failing, if we could just relax and treat everything as a learning process, then our failures will not be so heartbreaking. Instead, we will learn to get up, brush it off and move on. If we let it break us, we will never feel the urge to actually succeed at what we are trying to do. Let’s face it, it feels pretty damn good to get something right after failing at it the first few times. It’s like getting stuck in traffic and choosing to walk an extra few blocks instead of sitting in the cab and fuming. You might be late but at least you reach your destination.

5) Be honest with yourself

Accepting failure as a part of self-growth and as the best way to build trust in yourself. It lets you understand your strengths and your weaknesses. It also lets you realize that you cannot just crash through life hoping everything will work out. You need to actually fail a few times to understand which parts of your characters and talents need work and practice. If you are actually honest about these things with yourself, you choose your options and take decisions more carefully. Your pool of talents also grow with the work you are doing to fix your weaknesses, making you a more well-rounded person. Elon Musk has a saying: “If things are not failing, you’re not innovating enough.” 

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6) Increase endurance

“People don’t care about what you say, they care about what you build.” – Mark Zuckerberg

mark zuckerberg quote on building

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Gives you perspective, doesn’t it? Your tolerance will automatically increase once you learn to accept that you have failed. You do not flail around and throw tantrums and waste your time crying over spilled milk. Instead, with every failure, your endurance grows and you learn to pick yourself up, recognize why you failed in the first place and start rebuilding.

7) Success too easily achieved feeds your ego

You may succeed once or you may do it twice. You might even somehow make it the third time. No one gets through life leaving a string of successes in their wake without failing. Everyone messes up. But if you let your first few successes get to you, if you let it feed your ego, the fall will be hard on you. So the trick is to remember that nothing is always easy. You need to work on yourself and you need to work hard consistently. Only then will you be able to quickly pick up the pieces and move on when disaster does hit you.  As Mark Zuckerberg says, “I’m here to build something for the long-term. Anything else is a distraction.” 

mark zuckerberg quote

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8) Plan better

The more you fail the more you know how to plan better. You’ll get to know how to choose your battles wisely. You take up challenging work with the intention to learn and knowing exactly where you will need help. When you know all of this, work becomes smoother as you go.

9) Co-exist with others

It’s not just about you. The more you fail, the more you learn to appreciate how hard everyone around you work, especially people who make it look easy. So when someone you work with messes up despite trying hard, you will remember when you were in the same position. This lets you accept things and help others come to terms with their failures. You will also know when to ask for help and keep your ego aside. These small boosts will also help you in building you own and other’s morale instead of being stilted and judgmental.

10) Understand your weaknesses

Great people that we see everyday on TV or read about in books have all failed in their lives. Not once but several times they have had to pick themselves up from the most terrible situations. From Denzel Washington to Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs and Elon Musk. Still they prevailed. And just like you will never look at their failures and call them weaknesses, you cannot treat yours as such either.

Knowing that you have failed and still choosing to move forward and keep building takes courage and spine. If you recognize bravery in these great men and women, then you need to recognize them in yourself too. The trick is to deal with it like a child would. They cry when they fall, then they quickly get up and start running again. So should you.

Failure Is Life’s Greatest Teacher

And last but not the least, remember this: It  is okay to fail a class or two but failure is the one lesson you cannot avoid even when you want to. So, take the harder way and choose growth over stillness. Your future self will thank you for it.

Related: 5 Things You Should Do When You Fail to Reach Your Goals