Contributed by Hastalag


Don’t Fear Failure: It’s the Secret to Success

Published in The Jamaica Gleaner: Sunday | March 6, 2011

Glenford Smith, Career Writer

Do you realise that everything you are now skilled at you once couldn’t do? Isn’t it amazing that the things you do so effortlessly today you had to master by failing over and over before you gained mastery?

You effortlessly read and understand this sentence, but think back to how many times you failed to distinguish between c-a-t, r-a-t, and m-a-t, when you were just learning how to read. Or consider how many times you had to fail before you eventually learned to tie your shoe laces.

Think back to the innumerable mistakes you made when you were learning to drive – changing gears, parking or reversing.

In fact, when you think about it, every success you’ve had in life up to now came through the process of repeated failure. This simple fact is astounding in its implications.

It means that the destination called career success is reached only by travelling the path called failure. There are very few career goals you’ll not achieve when you transcend your fear of failure. Imagine how your work life would jump to a next level if you didn’t allow failure to frustrate you and the fear of failure to stop you from trying new things.

No reason to despair

Suddenly, you would realise that doing 10 job interviews and not being called back after any was no reason to despair and quit the job hunt. You would not hesitate to ask the next prospect for a sale despite being told no by the previous 25. After all, you may succeed with the next interview or prospect.

Decide to make friends with failure and you won’t let fear of failure cause you to turn down opportunities for advancement and promotion at work. It’s amazing how many people are quick to say no, and give plausible excuses too, when they are offered new and challenging opportunities at work. They would rather remain stuck in their self-imposed comfort zones rather than risk failing in the process of learning new skills and developing latent abilities and potential.

Remain courageous

One of the outstanding characteristics of all successful entrepreneurs is their willingness to try new, unfamiliar things, and their courage to risk failure and learn from their mistakes. For them, failure is not final; it’s just feedback. They interpret failure to mean try harder, or try something else rather than an excuse to quit.

Thomas Edison, the great inventor was once asked how he could have persisted after thousands of failed experiments in inventing the incandescent light bulb. His response was that he had not failed once; he instead had found thousands of ways that didn’t work.

This is the key to benefiting from failure and to keep on trying after every failure. It is to reframe failure, to see it not as something bad to avoid at all costs, but as a necessary part on your journey to success. As has been wisely said: “Failure is merely the opportunity to start over again, wiser than before.”

Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist.