The Gift of Failure

by on January 14th, 2011
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There are situations in life that put our pride to the test… A rejection letter from the college that you always wanted to attend, a breakup with the person you thought was your soulmate or finding out that you didn’t get the job. Usually, someone (most likely a parent or a friend) will pat you on the shoulder and utter the words that will cause you to cringe, “Don’t worry, it just wasn’t meant to be. But wait and see, something better will come along.”

But you don’t want “something better” (the cynic inside of you doesn’t believe that better even exists.) You wanted that golden opportunity that seemed destined for. You did everything in your power to make it happen and the universe just rained on your parade. Failure is a bitter pill to swallow. Here’s how to turn you worst disappointment into a teachable moment.

1.) Escape from reality

Stop replaying the disappointing incident over and over again in your head. Instead, do something fun. Go see a movie, read a new book, call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while or try a new recipe. Whatever you do, make sure it’s out of the ordinary. You owe it to yourself! This is the first and most important step to moving on.

2.) Make a list of your accomplishments

The best way to mend your self-esteem is to remind yourself of how awesome you are. Make a list of everything wonderful you’ve ever done from your cool 7th grade science experiment to the loving way you take care of your pet. Don’t leave anything off the list, aim to come up with at least 50 things.

3.) Take back your power

Someone (an interviewer, a lover, an admissions representative, an investor, etc.) just told you “no.” In that moment, you may have felt a range of emotions from powerlessness to inadequacy. To take back your power, try to look at thing objectively. Some people don’t make decisions based on logic. You’ll just drive yourself crazy if you try to get into their heads. For example, a hiring manager might pick someone else for the job because that person happens to be their brother-in-law’s cousin.

4.) Don’t worry what “they” say

Failure hurts because we don’t live our lives in a bubble. People around you may look at you differently and that adds another layer of disappointment. Your neighbors will notice your car in the driveway all day and whisper, “I guess he/she didn’t find a job yet.” Sometimes, the negative attitudes can hit closer to home, especially if your family isn’t understanding. Give yourself a license to stop caring about what others think and say. You can’t change what happened, you can only make the most of the future.

5.) Keep aiming for the stars

After you’ve had time to reflect on what happened and you feel ready to try again, jump back out there with confidence. Send out some more resumes, go on some dates, get your business proposal in front of new funding sources. Whatever it is, go for it. But don’t do it to “prove” anything to anyone, not even yourself. Make sure you’re perusing opportunities that you really, really want.

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