Social media shows us plenty of happy memories being made by our friends and families shared for us to see. It can be easy to fall into the trap of assuming that everyone else is happier and more successful than you when you only see those positive highlights posted. But nobody is perfect. Even the people who seem the most fortunate are experiencing their own set of challenges. So if you’re ever getting down on yourself over recent mistakes or mishaps, just remember that occasional failure is an important part of life. We should look at failure from a more beneficial perspective. There are many benefits of failure! Let’s talk about failure as the precursor to success, how it can make us stronger people, and how it can open up the door to new possibilities.
You Can Learn From Failure!
We are constantly learning. From the moment we are born, we are taking in new ideas, facts, ways of thinking, and more. And while that might seem obvious, what might be less obvious is that before most of the learning we do, there is some sort of failure. Even business leaders need to be reminded of the educational value of failure and the strategies to process it.
To use a simple example, imagine you are a young child and you put your hand close to an open flame and burn yourself. Sure, you may be upset that you messed up and hurt yourself, but now you will have learned to be careful around fire.
Or to use a classroom example, perhaps you’re really having a tough time in math class and are having trouble doing well on your homework assignments. That’s okay! Struggling and failing are parts of the learning process. When people don’t understand something, they make mistakes. And they learn from those mistakes, whether it be by reflecting on what they did wrong, asking another person for help, or some other process. In this example, you could try your best on the assignments, then talk with a friend or the teacher about the questions you get wrong. Learning by doing is a great way to understand something, and you can’t do everything right all the time!
Failure Can Make You Resilient!
Some people might be fortunate enough to be on a lucky streak and have success after success with seemingly no bumps in the road. While that sounds good, the reality is that once they do experience failure, it can be a frightening surprise. People who are not used to failure will not know how to deal with or respond to it. As such, it can be a real toll on that person’s emotional health. Plus, it can limit that person’s creativity and decision-making, as discussed in research published in the Arkansas Law Review.
To illustrate this, think of something you’ve typically been good at. Maybe it is a sport, a subject, a musical instrument, or the like. You may be so good that you become accustomed to only success. Then when someone (a coach, teacher, director, etc.) criticizes or corrects you, it can come off as really demoralizing and make you feel like you’re no good at all. This is simply because you are not used to it, so it seems very jarring.
Be grateful if you have an occasional failure, as a psychological benefit of failure is that it is making you more resilient and capable of coping with emotional stress. And, as mentioned before, failure is a normal and recurring part of life; so becoming resilient and familiar with those feelings can only help. If you are not used to failure, try looking at it from a different perspective. Instead of thinking that failing makes you a screw-up, look at it as a chance to familiarize yourself with uncomfortable feelings. It can be hard and mentally taxing, but becoming familiar with failure can actually make you stronger.
Failure Can Create New Opportunities!
Here’s a scenario you’ve probably been in before. You have a plan that you put a lot of effort into. The plan doesn’t pan out as intended and you have to diverge from it. You might not be happy about it, but after looking back, things went better than expected. That sort of scenario can’t happen without failure. While failure can bring us down, failure can also open up the door to new possibilities. We might be forced to consider paths or ideas that we had not seriously thought about before failing.
For example, you might have a dream job that you’ve wanted for years now. Maybe you land that dream job and find out it’s not what you thought it would be. While this can be disappointing, a shift in careers can make you happier and more fulfilled than you would have been otherwise. Renowned author J.K. Rowling was only able to become famous after the failure she experienced. She had gone through a rough divorce and was alone as a poor single mother with next to nothing to her name. Since she was stuck at rock bottom, she decided that now was the time to pour all her energy into writing the first book in the Harry Potter series, which then seemed like a total gamble. Nevertheless, she succeeded, and may never have published those books without failing initially.
While failure can be upsetting and hard to reconcile, it can be an important process in life that has there are many benefits of failure. Failures allow you to learn when you reflect upon your mistakes and proceed with new knowledge or wisdom. Failure can also make you stronger. As much as we might not want to admit it, failure is something that we will all face in our lives. Each time we encounter failure, we become more apt at dealing with it. Failure can also create new possibilities. Each time we fail, we have to readjust and try new things that we may not have tried before. In doing so, we may come across new opportunities that can be beneficial for us.
If you would like to create new opportunities for those who are less fortunate, consider donating to Educate. Radiate. Elevate. Your donation can help bring tutors to low-income students of color who can help them overcome the achievement gap and have a fair shot at an education.