How to deal with failure is frankly the one topic I would rather not talk about, however, failure is something everybody has gone through at one time or another. Unfortunately, it is such a part of life sometimes, and it will show up when you don’t expect it. Other times it will seem like you might do everything you can to prepare yourself to win, only to fall flat on your face with nothing working out like you had planned. And while some falls hurt more than others, every single one of them certainly has an effect and kind of makes you feel like some one’s knocked wind out of your sails.
I know this is a sailing idiom that is used a lot but it might not carry that much meaning for someone who’s never sailed at all. I am a novice sailor and let me tell you, having no wind in your sails is every sailor’s nightmare (especially when they are trying to get somewhere). I remember this one time we were taking part in a sailing race. The journey we were meant to cover was approximately 4 1/2 hrs on a good sailing day, and on this particular day, we started off so well only to get half way and lose all wind. The sea was the most calm it had ever been and we were in one spot for hours and hours just making no progress. We ended up taking over 7 hrs to complete the race and yes you’ve guessed it, we lost!
Back to the topic, the way to look at failure is that you can use it as a learning experience. In fact, you should use it as a learning experience, otherwise, it will be a wasted opportunity. You have to assess it strategically and capture the lesson so that you know where things went wrong so you can do better next time, and use it as a stepping stone to make progress.
I’ve heard Kelly Roach (of kellyroachcoaching.com) say that “the ability to withstand failure helps you to build your bounce-back muscle”. Most times when I have failed, I have had meltdowns, cried and just had all the emotional reactions you can think of. The fact is, failure stings, and its ugly and it hurts. but the harder you fail and get back up, the stronger your bounce-back muscle.
A little while ago, I attended a leadership course where I failed a few of my tasks/ tests. It seemed like all the preparation I had made to make myself into a star student was just not helping me. In the grand scheme of things, these tests were not the biggest failures some leaders in my position have ever made but for me, I wasn’t having it. I wanted to excel (and that’s a good thing), so I was so hard on myself every time I didn’t do well which made me even more tense and meant that I kept spiraling down a black hole.
At the end of the whole thing, after it was all over and I could look back as a third part and think rationally, I asked myself, does it make me a bad leader just because I failed a few tests? I deliberated on the answer but at the end, I decided that you know what, NO! Having failed and made a few mistakes does not make me a bad leader. In fact, it makes me a good leader if I learn from my mistakes and think about them strategically. It made me think about some of the best leaders this world has ever seen and how some of them failed big time, at times publicly but those who learned from their mistakes and used them as stepping stones, it helped them improve their leadership.
One of these leaders that I looked at is King Solomon, believed to be one of the wisest kings, but also a man who made quite a lot of mistakes so he knew something about failure as recorded in
Proverbs 24:16 For a righteous man may fall seven times And rise again.
One of the most important things, when you fail, is to not let your confidence shake. Your identity is never in what you do but who you are, but the sad thing is that when we fail, that tends to knock our identity right down.However, ”your identity determines how you show up in life” Fabienne Fredrickson.
So every time failure tries to knock you down, be mentally determined to get back up even before you hit the floor, in other words, don’t ever quit. Don’t quit on yourself, your dreams and the vision that God has give you for your life, and don’t let fear convince you that it’s over when you fail; it’s not over until you win.
Micah 7:8 Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me.