Why is it so many of us can’t overcome failure and ultimately become successful? Is it because we’re undisciplined or stupid? The reasons experts cite may surprise you.
International speaker and author, Grant Cardone, states that, “failure is promoted in our society as the norm and success as the exception”(1). While high-tech senior exec turned high-powered CBS news journalist, Steve Tobak, states that previous success ruins future success because we “begin to think we have all the answers”(2).
While these explanations seem to fly in the face of common belief, if they’re accurate then our chances of continued failure seem likely as there are numerous other, more time-tested, ways to fail. These would include putting too much pressure on oneself, lacking education or experience, and not having the necessary confidence or know how. The odds of failure seem almost insurmountable. However, we all know people who’ve experienced success, so what are ways you can emulate them?
1. Think positively – WebMD states, “negative thoughts can make your depression worse or can raise your chances of having depression”(3). This means that negative thinking increases the likelihood of negative results. Instead of thinking, “I can’t do this,” try, “I’m not going to fail this time.”
2. Don’t quit – “I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but by how high he bounces when he hits bottom.” – George S Patton (4). People often fail to succeed because they quit trying too soon. To avoid this, get back to working on these ambitions as soon as possible. You can help ensure this by either marking a calendar or having someone you trust remind you.
3. Surround yourself with supportive people – Repeated failure is often the result of trying to do it all on your own. Instead, surround yourself with people who are supportive of your ambitions. Much like Helen Keller’s mother did when she wanted her daughter to be educated. The first few months Helen spent with her tutor, Anne Sullivan, were filled with failure. Eventually though, Helen had her famous water breakthrough in 1887(5).
4. Learn from your mistakes – “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison. People ultimately fail because they don’t see the value in failing. Instead of wallowing in self-loathing about how you didn’t achieve yet again, look at why you didn’t. If you feel you can’t see the problem(s) objectively then talk to a trusted friend.
5. Revise your strategy – Failure is often a result of faulty strategy. Regardless of whether this is because of poor planning or not having all the facts, it’s necessary to incorporate this acquired knowledge into a new and improved approach. For example, if you didn’t consider a number of minor details then write out a new strategy that takes these into account. If you determine that there were major reasons why you failed, maybe it’s necessary to include a professional strategist as part of your revised strategy.
6. Stay realistic – Quixotic (adj.) – extravagantly chivalrous or romantic; visionary, impractical, or impracticable (6). When you remain quixotic despite previous failings, you continue to doom your dreams. Ask yourself these two questions: one, are my goals attainable and two, are my methods sound? If the answer to either is “no” then adjustments are necessary.
7. Regenerate your motivation – Failure is exhausting, which often perpetuates further failure. When you regenerate your motivation, you give yourself the chance to power through setbacks and reach new heights.
In the ’92 NBA Finals Michael Jordan poured in 35 points because someone had suggested that an opposing player was better (7). By using this and many other perceived slights he ultimately became the greatest basketball player who ever lived. While this tactic was exclusive to his situation, a way the rest of us can regenerate motivation is to focus on the benefits of success.
Click here for the reasons why we fail and 101 ways to overcome failure
8. Remind yourself why this goal is important – Failure is sometimes due to the paths of success being so long that we forget why we originally started and wander off. By writing out why the goal is important to you, you can have a consistent and accessible reminder that will help keep you on the straight and narrow.
9. Don’t fixate on failing – People often fail to achieve success because they are too busy reliving their past failures. By not focusing on this, you can give your mind the chance to think positively and focus on a new strategy. If you have difficulty not fixating on failings then it might be wise to lean more on the people around you. Tell them that you need a shift in attitude from time to time.
10. Take small steps – A final reason why people don’t ultimately experience success is because they try to do too much too quick after a failing. When you get back to work on your goals, it’s wise to start slow and take small steps. In fact, if you Google “steps to success” you’ll come up with scores of hits that break down the process into 10, 12, or even 25 step (8). This is primarily because experts know that a return from failure requires incremental recommitment to the goal. By evaluating these online strategies, you take the first step in returning to your ambitions.
For many of us, overcoming failures and returning to the path of success isn’t easy. After all, with all the ways one can fail, and fail repeatedly, it can be painful to try again. However, we know that there are people who are successful, so we know it isn’t impossible for a person to achieve their goals. The idea is that by utilizing these tips, whether alone or in combination, you too can become someone cites as an example of success. The only question is: Will you do it?