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3 Powerful Reasons Why I Love to Fail (and Why You Should Too)

3 Powerful Reasons Why I Love to Fail (and Why You Should Too)

You know the feeling. The feeling you get when you fail miserably at something. That gut-sinking, desperate, I’m an idiot, and I’ll-never-amount-to-anything feeling. It’s awful, isn’t it?

In fact, some days it’s so awful that you don’t even want to get out of bed. The shame, embarrassment, and fear are harsh reminders that maybe you don’t have what it takes to succeed. Sometimes you even wonder if you should give up on your goals and dreams altogether. But you shouldn’t. And here’s why.

You can achieve the success you’ve always dreamed of by mastering one fundamental skill.

Failure: Study It, Understand It, Learn From It

Why is failure considered so bad? We seem to have a problem with failure. In the sense that failure is seen as the thing that must NOT happen at any cost. Too many people don’t want to focus on failure because it is often equated to weakness.

However, the truth is – failure happens to everyone. It happens in different areas of life and is not contained to high-stakes testing.

Some failures are bigger than others. Some are more public than others. Some are more humiliating than others. And some have a greater stigma around them. But failure does not need to set you back. It can catapult you into the future you’ve always wanted.

In fact, the only thing that separates people who succeed from those who don’t is a proper understanding of the power of failure. Successful people will tell you failure, is not only good, it’s also necessary.

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Failure might be a good teacher, but it’s also a cryptic one. Figuring out it’s lessons is no easy task. To be able to learn from failure, you need a way to decode the teachable moments “hidden” within them.

Here’s how to decode the valuable lessons of failure…

1. Study It

Start by analyzing your failures. Failure can constitute feedback regarding what you’re doing wrong, which permits you to adjust your actions until you do things right. But, many of us aren’t willing to look at our own mistakes. It makes us feel bad. However, in order to get a deep learning experience from failure we need to study them attentively, without falling to the other extreme and obsessing over them.

Study the facts. The fact is that there was a failure: you didn’t get the job, you didn’t make the sale, the relationship didn’t work out, and so on. Those are facts. That’s how you study failure. Anything beyond that is an interpretation, a meaning you’re giving to the situation.

2. Understand It

Failure is an opportunity, not a burden. It’s NOT the opposite of success. Failure is a bridge to success. It’s an initiation rite, the necessary steps you must take no matter how hard, no matter how tenuous.

Failure is NOT about making mistakes. Mistakes are inevitable and part of the journey. Mistakes are lessons. They’re stepping stones. They’re guideposts. If you don’t make mistakes you will not achieve anything. On the other hand, REAL failure is when you walk away from an opportunity. When you give up on your dreams to do something more “practical.” Failure is when you take the “sad sap” route, throw yourself a “pity party” and focus on thoughts about why you’re not good enough.

If you change the way you view failure and understand it for the life-changing experience it is, you can begin to take advantage of all the benefits that come along with it.

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3. Learn From It

Failure offers great learning lessons if you choose to approach it with a positive attitude. You can only receive what failure has to teach if you’re willing to fully embrace the failure itself. There’s no other way of learning other than by making mistakes. Failure teaches you that success rarely comes in the form of a “big break.” More often than not, it comes after months, even years of hard work.

Failure teaches you to try many avenues before giving up on reaching a goal because there’s usually more than one way to get there.

Failure can teach you where you went wrong in the first place and how you can pick yourself up again in a pursuit to succeed.

Failure can teach you that you’re not bad at something, just that you have to try a different method to find success.

Failure can reveal critical errors in your thinking, approach or game-plan and force you to make necessary adjustments. It may close one door, but will open another that’s better suited for your success.

There are always a million reasons to quit. But one reason to go on. You’ll have a happier more fulfilled life if you try your best to study, understand and learn from failure. Great. So now that we’re clear on that, why should you love to fail?

Here’s why…

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3 Powerful Reasons Why You Should Love to Fail

Success takes willpower, intelligence, determination and grit. But above all else, success requires failure.

Failure is the blacksmith’s hammer that tempers the sword of success.

Reason #1: Failure Means You’re Trying

Success is a moment. It’s fleeting, you work so hard for it but you will rarely savor it. But what really matters, isn’t success, it’s trying. Success is in the reaching, not the arriving. It’s constantly trying to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.

If you haven’t failed yet, chances are you aren’t trying very hard.

When you stop trying, you allow opportunity to pass you by. But when you try, you push yourself to dream, to do better, to look beyond the present and ultimately embrace the moment you are blessed to live in. So keep trying. Keep pushing. Keep believing in dreams that others don’t think are possible.

Reason #2: Failure Builds Character

Character in life is what makes people believe in you and is essential for individual success. It’s the most important trait you can have and takes a lifetime to build but can be lost in an instant.

A person with good character finds acceptance wherever he goes and is respected by all. In addition, character can help you develop a pleasant personality.

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Nothing is more important for true success in life. Life is nothing without it.

Failure helps you build character because it sheds light to who you currently are. Failure can show you if you give up, complain or blame others. This can help you make adjustments in your character so that you become successful.

Reason #3: Failure Helps You Overcome Fear

Fear is a useless emotion. It does nothing but cause negative effects. The feeling of fear is not productive, nor is it a necessary or important part of achieving success. Fear limits your full potential. It’s pervasive. And if you let it, fear can haunt everything you do.

Fear does not contribute to life, but rather it takes away so much from life. It takes away chances, experiences, choices, dreams, hopes, love, friendships, connections, possibilities… Fear is an anchor that must be cast off in order to live your life in the most honest, real and successful way possible.

As you begin to fail more and more, you start fearing less and less. And when fear drops low enough, you’ll reach a point where it’s no longer preventing you from taking action.

Failure is the Beginning of Success

Ninety percent of times, fear of failure is entirely internal. It really is. It’s you second-guessing yourself on something that you know you can do. Why do you know you can do it? Because you conceived the idea. It wouldn’t be possible if you couldn’t think of it. Let’s face it, if you want to accomplish something in life, even something huge, the answer to do that is already out there.

So, how could you fear failing, when failing is so important to success?

It doesn’t matter if you tried and failed a dozen times. Those failures just told you what doesn’t work. The difference lies in your response to failure. Most will give up. Most will cave in. Most won’t stick it out. But you do. And that is the difference. Success is what comes after you have survived all your failures. You have to fight through the bad days so you can earn the best days of your life. Success is what happens when you stick it out! Grind it out! And that is why I love to fail.

How about you? Do you love to fail?

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

Curiosity

Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

Patience

Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

A Feeling for Connectedness

This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

How to Self-Taught Effectively

With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

1. Research

Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

Learning the Basics

Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

Hitting the Books

Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

Long-Term Reference

While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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2. Practice

Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

3. Network

One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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4. Schedule

For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

Final Thoughts

In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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