How to Fail Brilliantly

None of us want to fail. If you could pass everything with flying colours, you would.

However, that requires work.

When you put the effort in, not everything is perfect. You have to get used to it. You’re going to fail once in a while.

original by action datsun
original by action datsun

So why not fail brilliantly? Here’s some help on how to use failure to your advantage:

  • Separate aspects of failure out of your control from those you can deal with – Control freaks don’t appreciate matters that are out of their control. Nevertheless, they exist. Anything you can deal with, concentrate on that. As for the stuff you don’t have a handle of, be aware of it as a random force.
  • Spend more time on rectifying, not blaming – Now you’ve worked out what’s outside your control, work out how best to move on. Don’t attribute blame to others in the process. Spend time more fruitfully: work with others to reach a more favourable conclusion; choose other variables/individuals with better potential; bypass the problem areas completely, if possible. Time spent solving problems is more effective than wasting time accusing others.
  • Analyse why the failure occurred – If you don’t know why events unfolded the way they did, how can you learn from the failure? Take stock of what happened before you try again. For any elements that don’t make sense, try finding out more in that area before moving on.
  • Accept – Sometimes we make the same mistakes again and again due to denial. It *has* to work this way.
    But does it really? Okay, certain situations may succeed eventually with a bit of patience and better circumstances. But most situations will fail until you do something different. Don’t be stubborn if other opportunities arise. Be open to change. You can’t be right all the time!
  • Understand which aspects of the situation *were* successful – The end result may not be perfect, but failure doesn’t mean you must start from scratch. What you do isn’t usually characterised by a succeed/fail mentality. There’s a lot of movement in between. Use the mini successes within a bigger picture fail until you have a bunch of mini-successes from start to finish.
  • Use failure as part of a process, or as a tool – You don’t pick up a tool and use it without learning a bit about it first. Even if it’s only the basics. Before mastering a process or tool, you spend time learning, developing and experiencing. Failure is one step closer to success because, without failure, success can’t happen either.
  • Be responsible – A lot of failure can be turned around by taking a bit more responsibility. Imagine working your butt off for an essay and only getting a bare pass. Then imagine all that hard work was condensed into 48 hours before the essay was due in. You knew it wouldn’t be best to leave the assignment until the last minute, but for many, that’s exactly what happens. It’s what I call a ‘covert failure’. By taking responsibility from the outset, you can manage the situation more clearly and work your butt off without breaking into a sweat. From covert failure to double win.

Now you can fail better, you may still not like failing. Don’t worry, I’ve got tips on how to pick yourself up after a fall too.

Now get out there and start failing, you awesome person, you!

4 comments

  1. Such a great post! It’s always good to look at the positives of each and every situation. Failure is important to our growth and mistakes need to be made in order for us to learn. Your blog provides a good basis to change the way we see failure (or as I call it ‘a disruption in progress!)

    Thanks.

    1. I like it…’a disruption in progress’. If we stop, the action ends. Every action is a disruption. Great thought.

  2. Thanks for this great post! I am doing a distance course and sometimes I am scared sometimes to fail, but while reading this I see the positive things about failure. Also I am not going to try to fail 🙂 Thanks for your interesting insights.

    1. Failure can be uncomfortable, but it is necessary because none of us are perfect. We might as well make the most of those failures by recognising both the act and the uses they have in helping us learn for the next time(s). 🙂

      Good luck with your course, Talina.

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