I remember once in my career being challenged on how I felt about failure. I had always grown up with the mindset that ‘failing is not good: there is a consequence.’ If I look back, I have failed several times. Whether it was my less-than-great (in my opinion) grades at my A levels, the quality of my university dissertation or missing out on a couple of promotions at work. Some will read this and think those are no big deal, but fellow introverts out there will resonate that in our minds, it’s an absolute disaster.
As an introvert, we will focus on what went wrong instead of the good bits. If I reflect on those three experiences with hindsight, it was only one A level which wasn’t great, the other two were quite good! The dissertation wasn’t outstanding but I still came out overall with a 2:2. The missed promotion meant I carried on learning and gaining experience in my current job role for a year and got a better promotion a year later.
Here are 5 lessons that I have learnt;
1 - To fail is not a disaster -When I read Ant Middletons book ‘Zero Negativity’ he said there is a positive to take from every situation. Try it, it’s hard sometimes but there is always one.
2 - It is actually a great thing to fail - failing is how you learn, actually taking the first step is the part you should be excited about. As an introvert, I will normally be fixated on what could go wrong, but sometimes I check myself and actually go what could go right.
3 - Take responsibility - this is not about taking over-riding responsibility for everything that goes wrong. This is about taking responsibility for how you can personally react to the situation in front of you. Sometimes, particularly when in a work environment, a member of your team might do something which impacts you. However it is about stepping back and taking responsibility for how you can handle it, for example asking yourself ‘how can I fix it’?’
4 - Don’t rush a decision - As introverts, when something goes wrong, the gut reaction is anger and heavy disappointment. I have often had a lot of feedback that I’m so calm and collected. This doesn’t mean the voices inside my head are not going crazy! I have learnt to take myself to a quiet space, so I can gain some perspective before making a decision on my next step.
5 - Failure is just a comma - its a pause to reflect, I quite liked this when I heard this. It’s so true, it’s about taking stock, finding out what needs to be done differently and moving forward.
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What tips can you share on how to deal with failure?