Getting Back On Your Feet After A Failure

Why failure is an important factor in success. And how to use failure for progress.


Have you ever been over-stepped in a project? Has your competitor been promoted before you? Did your boss ever shout at you in a meeting? Or did you lose out a job opportunity? Or has your start-up idea been rejected by investors?

If any of these things have happened to you, then congratulations. You are on the right path.

Without failure, success is meaningless. Failure is an important and necessary lesson.

So, how does one use failure positively to make progress and move towards success?

The most important thing to remember is that failure happens to everyone. The greatest have failed. Unlike others, Stephen Hawking overcame failures that were not of his own doing. He was faced with toughest circumstances and medical condition over which he has no control. He beat all odds, and still survived when doctors had predicted an early demise.

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Another necessary step is to accept the failure. Jeff Bezos could not be dissuaded from selling toys on Amazon in 1998. After a loss of $50 million, he accepted his mistake. It was accepting such mistakes that has made him one of the richest man on earth and the “Businessperson of the Year” in 2014 by Fortune.

The most important step in “failing forward” is to know when you have to make a course correction away from risk. Warren Buffet was driven to control Berkshire Hathaway in the 1960s. By the time he started buying stocks, New England textile mills were in dire straits, including Berkshire Hathaway. Yet he was determined to own the company, driven by his disdain of Seabury Stanton. Buffet poured his money into it, but by the time it shut down, he had diversified his investments and remained safe.

We have to learn from the mistake, and not be bogged down by it. Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, the Missile Man of India, and the former President, was so poor that he would distribute newspapers to help his father. He went on to achieve accolades, not only for himself, but also for his nation. The drive to overcome the situation was powered by inner quest for more.

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By accepting the failure, and focusing on the positive, we can get up on our feet again and surge ahead towards our success goals.