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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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Teresa Griffith

Teresa is a passionate writer who shares about productivity tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

More About Working From Home

Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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