Is It Failure or Is It a Learning Experience
How do you decide whether something that you’ve undertaken in your life that hasn’t worked out, is a learning experience or a failure? Everyone has experienced a failure at some time in their life; something that you’ve put time and energy into, but that hasn’t worked out. So how do you move on in a new direction, and learn something from your failed attempt? A number of people might say it’s just really semantics and that failure and a learning experience are the same. Others, would say, call a spade a spade, and admit that you failed and move on. There is some truth to both of those statements. What I would say is that there is really a grieving process to go through when you’ve encountered failure. If you use that process correctly, in the end, you embrace the learning experience that you’ve encountered during the failure process. Here are some thoughts on the process of handling failure.
1. You need to admit your failure. You don’t need to beat yourself up. But, you need to be open with yourself. You can’t move on if you don’t think you’ve failed. Acknowledge that whatever it was you attempted, was a failure. Remember, those that don’t admit to failure will simply repeat their earlier failures.
2. Give yourself time to grieve for your failure. Grieving your failure it healthy. You aren’t going to move on immediately. You probably put substantial time and effort in to a dream that didn’t come true, your dream. You invested your energy and passion. Take some time to feel the loss. You can’t be expected to get over it all at once.
3. Debrief about what was done incorrectly. This isn’t about creating blame, it’s about breaking down the failure process and trying to understand what actually caused the failure. You need to go through the process of failure in your mind to understand what shouldn’t be done the next time around.
4. Think about what you learned. Focus on what you learned from what happened. As time goes by there may be more and more pieces that you realize were part of your learning experience. This is the first step to turn the failure process into a learning process.
5. Don’t hang on to the failure. Sure, things weren’t done right. But something only becomes a true failure if you can’t move on in a new direction. You have to be able to put the failure in the past. Otherwise, it means you didn’t learn anything from what happened. Make sure what you take away from the failure, focuses on the future.
6. As time goes by focus on the positive memories. Saying something was a failure denotes negativity. Sure, you don’t want to sugar coat what happened. But if you are realistic with yourself, using the term learning experience will help you move forward on a positive note. Hopefully there were some enjoyable times during the failure process that you can focus on.
7. Get back up on the horse. Don’t let a failure cause you to shy away from taking on new challenges in the future. Sure, life is harsh at times. But you won’t learn and grow if you don’t continue to stay involved and active. Take what you’ve learned from your failure and move on to your next challenge.
Turning a failure into a learning experience is all about going through a grieving process, learning from that failure, and then moving forward in a positive manner. It’s all about the steps you take. Learn from failure don’t be consumed by it.