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How To Leverage Your Biggest Failure Into Your Biggest Success

How To Leverage Your Biggest Failure Into Your Biggest Success

Swallowed pride. Back to the drawing board. Didn’t work out this time. Your biggest failure can feel like a sore defeat. But if you know how to decipher what went terribly wrong, you have just flung open the door to what could go incredibly right.

Here are 9 questions to ask yourself in order to leverage your biggest failure into your biggest success yet:

1. What drove my decision making?

When you look back at what went wrong, you can see a series of decisions that led to your downfall. What drove those decisions? Were you operating out of negative feelings or positive ones? Many times when we are fearful, angry or stressed we make decisions based on immediate impulses that don’t keep the long game in mind.

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Next time you have a big decision to make, notice whether you are veering toward an emotional state of anxiety or calmness. If it’s the former, wait to make any moves until you can come to the decision with less aggravation.

2. Who were you communicating with when you made important choices?

Who we let in to our mental sphere when we are working for a big win is important. We can’t just arbitrarily let voices into our heads that shouldn’t be there. That includes anyone who drains your energy and anyone who manipulates your energy.

The drainers are easy to spot because you feel zapped of mojo in their presence, but the manipulators are a little harder to detect. They build you up when perhaps you need honesty, they instill belief where maybe you need the bottom line, they want something out of you now so they don’t consider the big picture. Replace these energy suckers with people who have either been where you stand before, have only your best interest at heart or are removed enough from the situation to give you some clarity.

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3. How did you approach the project, event or situation?

Hindsight is always crystal clear, isn’t it? There is a small voice that says, I had a bad feeling about that. The good news is, when you can look at your biggest failure and notice when that instinct creeped up in your head, it’s easier to recognize it the next time. The pain of missing out on the value of your own intuition is a powerful guide to accessing that intuition the next time around.

4. When did you let instinct drive you?

On the other side of that coin, when were you able to let instinct lead your way? Maybe the total outcome of the project failed but there were glimmers of clarity. What were those moments? Was it when you pivoted your stance on a company ideal, stepped down from a position or went ahead without getting clearance? Those moments of instinct, even when all the pieces didn’t add up to success, are wins. When you remember how it felt to be led by your gut, your gut gets bolder.

5. When did you know you failed?

The moment failure smacks you in the face. You don’t forget it. If you put it all on the line and it was truly the biggest disappointment, humiliation or failure in your life so far, you know exactly where you were and how you knew when it was over.

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Maybe someone told you but you never saw it coming – in which case, you’ve just learned that you need to spend some time developing deeper consciousness so you can absorb the signals from the world around you. Or perhaps you saw it coming from a mile away and still didn’t act. In this case, you’ve learned that you are more aware than your lack of actions would admit and need to give yourself permission to proceed. Either way, understanding your relationship to your failure will be critical the next time you assess a high stakes situation.

6. Would it look different if you succeeded?

What if your failure wasn’t so big after all, in fact, what if it all went as planned? What would have been different? Would you have had a better team in place? Worked alone? Pivoted to a whole new concept? Resisted investing as much money? Consider how you would have succeeded. Only on the other side of failure can we truly see how we got from point A to point B. Maybe our greatest failure is just one tiny tweak away from being our biggest success. Can you pinpoint what that is and leverage it? If you can, you’ve got something great on your hands.

7. Where would you be now if you had succeeded?

Ask yourself what success looked like to you. Was it a status, a financial gain, a partnership? At the base of any of those tangible ideas of success is a feeling you hope to attain. For most people, that feeling is happiness – but get even more specific. Was it comfort, joy, affirmation, pride, excitement? Those feelings can be attained from a host of outcomes. Sometimes success only alludes us because we are pre-packaging our idea of those feelings instead of really chasing what will cultivate that feeling in us.

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Define how success would have made you feel and then look for the areas of your life where that feeling comes up again and again. There is an easiness in those places. Go grow there.

8. What was the best thing to come out of your failure?

What was a happy accident? What was the one thing you would have never known if you had never gone after something huge and failed? What surprised you? Use these nuggets of hard-won wisdom to calibrate for the next time. Use those happy, surprising accidents as guideposts for what you won’t give up this time around. Your failures are valuable, so don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

9. What will you never do again?

Draw that line in the sand. Say, never again. I will not make that mistake twice. This should feel good. This is authenticity and strength. Knowing where your limits are gets you closer to your center, grounds you in your instinct and makes the world move faster and smoother around you. Go ahead, say it: never again. And see the possibilities open up for next time.

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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