How to benefit from your failures

Posted on July 13, 2015 in: Articles


Everyone has heard the story of how Thomas Edison regarded failure. Asked how he could keep pursuing invention of a successful light bulb after he had failed again and again, he replied: "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

If attitude counts for anything, his attitude about failure is a good one to have. He ended up having 1,093 patents to his name.

Mindy Crary, writing in Forbes, offers seven keys for what she calls "successful failure."

  1. Reject rejection — Develop a healthy self-image not based on your performance. (Crary doesn't say so, but we teach that your self-image and self-worth should be based on your firm knowledge that God loves you unconditionally and wills each moment of your life.)
  2. Take blame — As we say in teaching people how to lead like Jesus, don't look in the mirror to give credit when things are going well and look out the window for someone to blame when they're not. The only way to learn form failure is to accept responsibility for it.
  3. See failure as temporary — In other words, don't become the failure you've experienced. See it as a momentary event, an anomaly, and not a personal norm.
  4. Set realistic expectations — it's great to have some "stretch goals," but don't set the bar so high you make failure inevitable. Instead, strive for incremental improvements over the long haul.
  5. Focus on strengths — don't focus on fixing your flaws when you could be building on your strengths.
  6. Vary approaches to achievement — Finding the right path generally involves exploring a variety of paths; don't be afraid to experiment, fail and try again another way.
  7. Bounce back — Achievers have short memories. They learn from their successes and failures, but they don't obsess about either. Focusing on past successes breeds complacency and arrogance. Focusing on past failures breeds fear and paralysis.

"Failure is a constant. Your response to failure holds the key to what happens next," Crary concludes. 

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