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Published on December 9, 2020

7 Important Lessons You Can Learn From Failure

7 Important Lessons You Can Learn From Failure

Experiencing a major failure is one of the worst things in life. It fills you with negative emotions and leaves you feeling worthless. This is why most people will do anything within their power to avoid failure, even if this means never attempting anything new. Despite the negative energy it comes with, failure has its positive side. Experiencing failure can teach you lessons that you wouldn’t have learned otherwise—you can learn from failure.

Actually, some of the most successful people in the world were only able to attain success because of the lessons they learned from their previous failures.

Have you experienced a major failure recently? Here are 7 important lessons that you can learn from failure.

1. Failure Teaches You That Success Is Never Guaranteed

When trying something new, whether that is starting an online business, applying for your dream job, starting a blog, or even starting a new relationship, everyone wants to achieve success. Unfortunately, this desire for success can sometimes be limiting.

For instance, some people have always wanted to start their own business but they’ve never done it because they aren’t sure whether they’ll achieve success. They get stuck in analysis paralysis and keep waiting for the perfect time, which never comes, unfortunately. Their desire for success actually holds them back from starting their business.

Someone who has experienced failure, on the other hand, understands that success is never guaranteed. Sometimes, failure happens due to factors outside your control.

When you’ve been through a major failure, therefore, you understand that things could go wrong, despite your best efforts. Knowing failure is always a possibility—you learn to not let the fear of failure hold you back.

Having experienced failure pushes you to go after your dreams. It teaches you to keep trying and trying until you get it right. This is what eventually leads to success.

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Like Winston Churchill once said, success is moving from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

2. Failure Teaches You to Embrace Change

When you go through failure, this is basically the universe telling you that there is something you’re not doing right.

For instance, if you fail in college, this failure could be telling you that you didn’t pay enough attention to your studies. Similarly, if your business fails, the failure could be telling you that there are some business factors you did not put into consideration.

As the popular quote commonly attributed to Albert Einstein goes, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If you keep doing things the same way you did before, you’ll still keep on encountering failure.

This means that to overcome your failure, you must change something about your approach. You have to look back at your failure, see what you did wrong, and then decide what changes you need to make to be successful the next time. In so doing, your failure teaches you that the only way to overcome failure is to embrace change.

3. Failure Can Be a Great Source of Motivation

For most people, failure dampens their motivation and makes them feel like quitting. For people with the right mindset, however, failure can be a great source of motivation.

Basketball legend Michael Jordan is a great example of such people. At 15 years old, Michael Jordan wanted so much to be part of his high school basketball team. Unfortunately, his high school coach didn’t think he was worth being part of the team, especially considering he was 5’10’ and couldn’t even dunk.

The realization that he didn’t make the cut really crushed young Michael. He actually went home that evening and cried in his room. Instead of letting this kill his dream, however, Michael was determined to show the coach that he deserved to be on that team.

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He trained as hard as he could, motivated by the pain of not making the team. Eventually, he earned himself a spot on the high school team and went on to become the best basketball player of all time.

This is an example of intrinsic motivation[1] spurred by failure to attain a goal you’re very passionate about.

Just like Michael Jordan, you can turn your failure into a source of motivation. Instead of letting it crush you, let the pain of not achieving your goal push you to work harder until you achieve your dreams.

4. Failure Is Not Final

After experiencing a major failure, it feels like your world has come to an end. You feel like you don’t have it in you to achieve your dreams—or anything worthwhile for that matter. Actually, after going through major failure, some people give up entirely on life.

However, if there’s one thing you can learn from the failures of some of the world’s most successful people, it’s that failure is not final.

When Steve Jobs was kicked out of the company he started in his parent’s garage, it felt like the world had come to an end for him. However, Jobs dusted himself off, started other companies, and was eventually brought back to be the CEO of a struggling Apple. He then went on to transform it into the trillion-dollar company it is today.

Similarly, Walt Disney experienced his first failure after being fired from a newspaper for “not being creative enough.” He then started a company that failed as well. Undeterred, he went on to start the company that bears his name, which became a huge success.

There are several other highly successful people who failed their way to success. What you can learn from their failures is that failure is not the end of the road. It is possible to overcome your failure and go on to achieve greater success than you had ever envisioned.

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Knowing that you can still pick yourself up and become successful again gives you self-confidence, which is one of the most important soft skills for success.[2]

5. Failure Broadens Your Perspective

Very often, we are too immersed in the pursuit of our goals that we forget other important things in our lives. You might be so focused on growing your business that you overwork yourself and forget about other important things in your life, such as your family or even your health.

For instance, you might have decided to run a freelance business to enjoy a better work-life balance and spend more time with your family. With time, however, you realize that you’re spending more time working on your freelance business than you did on an 8 to 5 job.

Even after all your hard work and effort, you realize that your business is not making money, and you decide to shut it down. You begrudgingly accept that your business has failed.

Going through such a failure gives you a chance to look back at things and redefine what’s important for you. This is when you realize that you were too focused on making the business successful that you actually lost sense of the main reason you started the business—to enjoy a better work-life balance.

This period of re-evaluating your life following a major failure allows you to broaden your perspective and focus on other things that might bring you greater happiness and satisfaction than the goals you were chasing previously.

6. Failure Teaches You to Stay Humble

Success is a lousy teacher. Oftentimes, after achieving a series of successes, most people allow the success to get to their heads. It makes you feel invincible, like everything you do was meant to be a success.

Unfortunately, this often leads to arrogance. You start making riskier gambles because you believe that nothing can stop you. Ultimately, this sets you up for failure.

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If you’ve experienced failure, however, you never let success get to your head. Even when things are going well, you know that they could go wrong at any time. This reminds you that you’re human and keeps you humble.

It also makes it easier for you to handle things in case you encounter failure in the future. Dealing with failure is a lot harder if you’ve always achieved success in all your endeavors and arrogantly believe that you can’t fail.

7. Failure Teaches You That Not Every Idea Is Worth Pursuing

Sometimes, you experience failure not because you didn’t give your best effort but because you pursued the wrong idea. When things are going your way, you might get too optimistic and want to act on every idea that pops into your head.

Failure reminds you that not every idea that pops into your head is a great one. Experiencing failure teaches you to filter through your ideas, conduct thorough evaluation, and only act on the ideas that look most promising.

For instance, when Steve Jobs came back to Apple in 1996, the company was literally on its knees. One of the most drastic measures that Jobs took to get back the company to profitability was cutting down on the dozens of product ideas the company was working on.

Jobs brought the focus of the company to a handful of product ideas. This focus on the most promising ideas is what took Apple from a struggling company to one of the biggest companies in the world.

Like Jobs who had experienced major failure when he was ousted from Apple, experiencing failure can teach you that not every idea is worth pursuing.

Wrapping Up

Failure is a painful experience that no one wants to go through. The truth of the matter, however, is that failure is inevitable. As long as you’re attempting something you’ve never done before or continue pursuing your dreams, you cannot completely avoid failure.

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Despite the pain that comes with failure, this is not to say that failure doesn’t have its silver lining. If you pay attention, failure can teach you valuable lessons. To help you turn failure into something positive, I have shared with you 7 important lessons that you can learn from failure.

More Articles About Learning From Failure

Featured photo credit: Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Martin Lünendonk

3x Serial Online Entrepreneur

7 Important Lessons You Can Learn From Failure 7 Ways To Get Back Up After A Major Failure

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Last Updated on June 4, 2021

10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

Failure occurs everyday, in school, jobs, housework, and within families. It is unavoidable, irritating and causes pessimism.

While the thought of flinging your hands in the air and walking away is all too appealing, take a second to connect with the people who have been there and survived.

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. — Henry Ford

Here are 10 famous failures to success stories around the world that will inspire you to keep going and achieve greatness:

    1. J.K. Rowling

      During a Harvard commencement speech, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling outlined the importance and value of failure.[1]

      Why? Simply because she was once a failure too.

      A few short years after her graduation from college, her worst nightmares were realized. In her words,

      “I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.”

      Coming out of this failure stronger and more determined was the key to her success.

      2. Steve Jobs

        The now revolutionary Apple started off with two men in a garage. Years later we all know it as a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees.

        Yet, almost unbelievably, Steve Jobs was fired from the very company he began.

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        The dismissal made him realize that his passion for his work exceeded the disappointment of failure. Further ventures such as NeXT and Pixar eventually led Jobs back to the CEO position at AppleJobs said in 2005:

        “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.”

        Lost your job today? Keep kicking and you could be just like this guy!

        3. Bill Gates
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          Bill Gates was a Harvard dropout. He co-owned a business called Traf-O-Data, which was a true failure.[2]

          However, skill and a passion for computer programming turned this failure into the pioneer of famous software company Microsoft, and the then 31-year-old into the world’s youngest self-made billionaire.

          In his own words:

          “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

          This isn’t to say that dropping out of Harvard will make you into a billionaire, but maybe that shiny degree isn’t worth as much as the drive and passion to succeed.

          If you haven’t found your passion like Bill Gates, this will help you:

          How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

          4. Albert Einstein

            The word ‘Einstein’ is associated with intelligence and synonymous with genius. Yet it is a famous fact that the pioneer of the theory of general relativity, Albert Einstein himself, could not speak fluently until the age of nine. His rebellious nature led to expulsion from school, and he was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School.

            His earlier setbacks did not stop him from winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921. After all, he believed that:

            “Success is failure in progress.”

            To this day, his research has influenced various aspects of life including culture, religion, art, and even late night TV.

            Just because you haven’t achieved anything great yet, doesn’t mean you can’t be an Einstein yourself.

            5. Abraham Lincoln

              Failing in business in 1831, suffering a nervous breakdown in 1836, defeated in his run for president in 1856, Abraham Lincoln was no stranger to rejection and failure. Rather than taking these signs as a motivation for surrender, he refused to stop trying his best.

              In this great man’s words:

              “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”

              Lincoln was elected in 1861 as the 16th President of the United States of America.

              The amount of rejection you receive is not a defining factor. Success is still within your reach.

              6. Michael Jordan

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                “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

                This quote by retired basketball legend Michael Jordan in a Nike advertisement speaks for itself.

                It would be an easy misconception that Jordan’s basketball skills revolve around natural talent. In fact, in his earlier years,  basketball coaches had trouble looking past the fact that Jordan didn’t reach the minimum height. It was years of effort, practice, and failure that made the star we know today.

                Michael Jordan’s success all came down to his Intrinsic Motivation, one of the most invincible types of motivation that drives people to succeed.

                7. Steven Spielberg

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                  Regarded as one of the most influential filmmakers of all time, Steven Spielberg is a familiar household name. It is surprising to realize therefore that the genius behind Jaws and E.T. had poor grades in high school, getting him rejected from the University of Southern California three times.

                  While he was in college, he caught the eye of executives at Universal, who signed him as a television director in 1969. This meant that he would not finish his college degree for another 33 years.

                  Perseverance and acceptance of failure is the key to success, after all.

                  “Even though I get older, what I do never gets old, and that’s what I think keeps me hungry.”

                  Bad grades in high school aside, there is no questioning the genius involved.

                  To date, Spielberg has directed 51 films and has been awarded three Oscars.

                  8. Walt Disney

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                    Mickey Mouse creator Walt Disney dropped out of school at a young age in a failed attempt at joining the army.[3] One of his earlier ventures, Laugh-o-Gram Studios, went bankrupt due to his lack of ability to run a successful business. He was once fired from a Missouri newspaper for “not being creative enough.”

                    Yet today, The genius behind Disney studios is responsible for generations of childhood memories and dreams. From Snow White to Frozen, Disney will continue to entertain the world for generations to come.

                    The logic behind this is simple:

                    “We don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

                    9. Vincent Van Gogh

                      During his lifetime, Vincent Van Gogh suffered mental illness, failed relationships, and committed suicide at the age of 37.

                      He only ever sold one painting in his life, pinning him a failure as an artist. However that did not put a damper on his enthusiasm and passion for art.

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                      He would never know that years and years after his death he would become known as a key figure in the world of post-impressionism, and ultimately, one of the greatest artist that ever lived.

                      He would never know that he became a hot topic in art classes and his image was going to be used in TV, books and other forms of popular culture.

                      In the words of this great, but tragic man:

                      “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

                      10. Stephen King

                      01-Stephen-King-Rags-to-Riches-Celebs-1

                        As a paranoid, troubled child, tormented by nightmares and raised in poverty, it is no surprise that Stephen King grew up to the title: “Master of Horror”.[4]

                        An addiction to drugs and alcohol were his mechanisms to cope with the unhappiness he felt with his life. The frustration he felt towards multiple rejections by publishers in combination with illicit substances caused him to mentally contemplate violence towards his own children.

                        These intense emotions were those that he focused onto his writing. And that’s why he said:

                        “We make up horros to help us cope with the real ones.”

                        Writing became his new coping mechanism, and this is how the master author we know today grew to success.

                        Fail More Often in Order to Succeed

                        Like Albert Einstein said, failure really is just success in progress. If you’d rather not to fail, you will probably never succeed.

                        Success comes from moments of frustrations when you’ll be most uncomfortable with. But after you’ve gone through all those bitter times, you’ll become stronger and you’ll get closer to success.

                        If you feel like a failure and think that you’ve failed all too many times, it’s not too late to change things up! Here’s how to turn your limitations into your opportunities:

                        Don’t be afraid to fail. In fact, start failing, and start failing often; that’s how you will succeed.

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                        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                        Reference

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