Advertising

Why Experiencing Failure Is Necessary Before Becoming Successful

Why Experiencing Failure Is Necessary Before Becoming Successful
Advertising

It’s an all too common experience in life—one that has a profound influence on so many aspects in which we carry ourselves. Beyond shaping our personality, it is something that inevitably directs us through life, plots out our courses of action and contributes to everything that we are.

Failure.

It’s a word that has a negative connotation affixed to it, but the more that it’s understood, the more it can be regarded as something positive. Below are seven reasons why failure is a necessary element in our lives, how it benefits us and why it is especially necessary before achieving ultimate success.

Advertising

1. It helps to deliver some necessary perspective.

How can you enjoy the view from the top without having crawled your way up from the bottom? Perspective is everything. It allows you to connect with those who are travelling down (or up) the same path that you’ve traveled and warrants your efforts at guidance—it illustrates your wisdom. More so, perspective from both ends will help you avoid taking future success for granted. If you’ve succeeded in everything that you’ve tried on your first attempt, would you fully appreciate your achievements? They would have no meaning and no substance.

2. The struggle justifies the victory.

The feeling you get when you achieve something that you’ve worked so hard to attain—this is what builds a full appreciation for it and what makes your success feel like an actual success. If you’ve never really failed, you’ve never really tried. Making that crucial effort allows everything to feel worthwhile at the end, and it lets you know that you’ve really earned the success that you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Sometimes it may be more about the journey than the destination—the journey is what may be more influential on our lives and more memorable at the end of the day.

3. It builds a legitimate sense of entitlement—not a false one.

What do you think of people who are handed everything? Those who are born into fame, given wealth and power on a silver platter without asking for it? Do they deserve it, or have they earned it? It’s debatable, and many of these individuals do go on to prove themselves in one way or another, but it has to be acknowledged that they are given a head start. Something much more profound becomes apparent when achievement is backed by struggle, sacrifice, and success. Respect and, more crucially, genuine self-respect is attained.

Advertising

4. You learn about yourself from failure.

Life is full of failures. From hearing “incorrect” when you take a chance on a question asked by a teacher to a denial for a promotion at work, we face learning the hard way in many aspects of life. Mistakes are failures; mistakes are also one of the best ways to learn. Rejections are failures; rejections are also motivators to try harder. A major part of life is learning how to respond to failure effectively. Rather than letting a rejection trap you in a downward spiral, you let it motivate you, fuel your future efforts. In a way, it’s sort of like building a tolerance—failure makes you stronger, wiser. In nature, predators have adapted themselves generation after generation to hunt quietly, fiercely, effectively—not because they simply knew how to do it but because they know what doesn’t work based on their own experience or that of their ancestors.

5. Failure makes you want it that much more.

First off, it’ll validate your endeavors. For instance, if you want to become a doctor, fail along the way and still work towards becoming a doctor, then you know for a fact that becoming a doctor is exactly what you’re meant to do—that it is your purpose. Secondly, if you fail along the way towards getting what you want, and still want it, your desire for that ambition will grow beyond measure. Failing to do something will re-animate and possibly reinvigorate your ambitions. In other words, if it’s something you really want, your thirst for it will grow.

6. Failure can be a window of opportunity.

Failure allows you to try new things. Not only to explore different avenues but it can act as an opportunity and help you discover things that you did not initially fathom. For instance, a failed relationship can help you identify what it is that you really want in a significant other. Failure in pursuing your occupational ambitions can help you redirect your focus towards a more appropriate path. It many cases, it can also help you realize that you’re not meant to exert your efforts into something and that your time and energy are better spent elsewhere.

Advertising

7. It prompts re-evaluation.

Above all else, failing at something provokes a re-assessment of your circumstances. Big or small, this re-assessment helps to hone analytical ability and potentially identify any shortcomings in your day-to-day effectiveness. Why did my pitch at the latest business meeting fall flat? Why do I always say the wrong thing when confronted with a troublesome inquiry?

Take interviewing for instance. Only the luckiest of the bunch are able to nail an interview on their first attempt, but for the rest of us normies, we may have to trudge through dozens of interviews before we hammer down our answers and manage to effectively impress a potential employer on a whim. Next time, I have to be more prepared. Next time, I have to avoid saying so and so. Next time, I have to allude to something that is worth alluding to. If you find yourself looking forward to “next time,” then you’re doing everything right—trial and error is an inevitable basis of achieving a desired result.

How can you benefit from failure?

Ask yourself if you’ve approached everything the right way, if you had been prepared enough or if you could have done anything differently and what was outside and inside your sphere of control that may have contributed to any given failure. Most importantly, monitor your responses to things that don’t go the way that you want them to. Do you become too easily discouraged when faced with an undesired result? Or do you build from it, treat it as wisdom and use that experience as an advantage?

Advertising

There’s a clear theme that is common to each and every point mentioned above—the idea that we have to work to get what we want, that we have to earn it. Failure is as big of a part of life as anything else and the more we embrace the failure, the brighter a light we can shine on our success. Failure gives us bragging rights and allows us to subsequently savor the success that we’ve earned, providing a legitimate sense of entitlement and self-respect, shielding us from criticism and steeping us in wisdom.

Life is a story, and what kind of story doesn’t involve some measure of conflict, of struggle and the need to persist. The old peg-legged fisherman, sitting in a dimly-lit bar on the tiresome shoreline of any cliche fishing town would not have a story to tell if he hadn’t first failed to catch the prized fish a hundred times before. In the words of Charles Bukowski, “What matters most is how well we walk through the fire.”

Featured photo credit: Stokpic via stokpic.com

Advertising

More by this author

Michael Woronko

Michael shares about tips on self-development and happiness on Lifehack.

What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People The Power of Self-Reflection: 10 Questions You Should Ask Yourself 4 Ways To Psychologically Manipulate Someone Why Experiencing Failure Is Necessary Before Becoming Successful Addiction To Selfies: A Mental Disorder?

Trending in Productivity

1 5 Values of an Effective Leader 2 How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them 3 The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work) 4 30 Practical Ideas to Create Your Best Morning Routine 5 Is People Management the Right Career Path for You?

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
Advertising

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

Advertising

From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

Advertising

The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

Advertising

But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

Advertising

Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Advertising

Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

Read Next