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How Failure Helps You To Succeed and Grow

How Failure Helps You To Succeed and Grow

Timothy Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek said this about achieving success in life:

“You won’t believe what you can accomplish by attempting the impossible with the courage to repeatedly fail better.”

Failing Better

What does it mean to you to “fail better?” Better than someone else? Fail/fare a little better each time you try? Maybe it means to fail spectacularly! Go big or go home! Or how about failing but getting better along the way—getting better through failure—and learning something from the experience? I believe that is the key: to allow failure to be a springboard from which we succeed and grow.

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How we handle failure is more important than how we handle success. We are all going to experience failure at some point in our lives, and our attitude about that failure is what determines whether we bounce back or fall hard.

1. Decide you want to bounce back. The power of intention is amazing, and the simple, conscious decision or desire to bounce back will make it far easier for you to do so. When you decide you want to do something and spend a little time visualizing, parts of your subconscious, intuition and conscious mind all start working together towards that goal—it’s the power of positive thinking at work. Even if you have no idea how you will do it, why not start by telling yourself that you’d like to bounce back from this failure? How you speak to yourself is so important.

2. When you fail at something, it isn’t about you. Well, in a way it is, but it isn’t about your core personality, humanity or your soul. It’s much harder to bounce back when you take failure to heart too much and make it about your value as a person. Your importance to those who love you does not change when you fail; your potential to make a difference in the lives of those around you does not change. If anything, your potential increases with every failure experience you have, since the most painful events in life often give us the most valuable experiences and dramatic growth. Experiencing failure makes us more compassionate, and that also increases our capacity to make a difference in the world.

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How can you make sure you don’t take failure too personally? Remind yourself—literally, tell yourself—that deep down, you are still you. The failure was just a thing that happened, like a hundred other things that have happened to you. Maybe you did some things that didn’t work out, but if you compared notes with every ridiculously successful person out there, you’d find they all have similar stories to tell. Since you survived, you can still thrive!

3. Still breathing? Keep at it. Often when we are rushed or stressed, or have been through a trauma, we breathe shallowly and unevenly, which hampers our thinking and increases our anxiety. Stop from time to time and check your body to see how deeply you are breathing, and take a deep breath to reduce your stress levels and reset your brain waves. Some practices like yoga focus on breathing, but even without the exercise element, simply taking deeper, conscious breaths will improve your clarity and help you to learn important lessons from the failure.

4. Reframe and start from where you are. In the autumn of 1972, an unusually early frost hit the vineyards of Peachland, British Columbia, Canada. It was devastating: grapes still clinging to their vines froze into little globes of ice. The year’s grape harvest would have been a complete failure, except that the vineyard’s owner, Walter Hainle, decided to make wine anyway. He knew of a tradition in Germany of making sweet dessert wines from frozen grapes, and although he originally planned on keeping the wine for personal use, he decided to sell it six years later. The wine was one-of-a-kind, which means it commanded a premium price. Thus, a lucrative, ridiculously successful new wine market was born— ice wine. It worked with the Canadian climate rather than against it, and it would have never been discovered if it hadn’t been for what seemed like a failure at the time.

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The ability to reframe a life event is directly related to our ability to bounce back. Practice on small, easy things, and decide that you won’t:

  • play the role of victim in this failure
  • let self-degrading thoughts take hold
  • let anger control you

Instead, try to see the situation from another perspective—the essence of reframing—and see what you might be able to learn from it all.

So, when you fail, begin from exactly where you are, look for opportunities, take a deep breath and get back in the game, knowing that you are learning valuable lessons along the way, having great new experiences and living life to the fullest! Vive la failure!

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Featured photo credit:  Clumsy business man falling down stairs via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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