“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford
Failure, defined as a lack of success, and the omission of expected or required action. It is mentioned with negative connotations and associations of shame. I challenge you today to replace point of view, and magnify all failure as data points – data points for what will not work, measurements for improving, and understanding your resilience.
We are living in an “Insta-perfect” society, where everyone is celebrating successes, wins, and highlight reels. It’s not common or inspiring to scroll down of timelines where people are losing their job, operating a business in the red, or experiencing some sort of “fail”. It causes us to believe we have to be someone one we are not, and not living up to those expectations, make us feel “a way” about our own achievements and successes.
I like the saying “Fail early and fail often!” I resonate with it in so many ways. My career in accounting started at the age of 22. I began studying for my CPA exam at the age of 23 and was given an 18 month window to pass the exam. This was my first real experience with failure. There are four parts to the CPA exam, and exam argued to be tougher than the bar exam. Not only is the exam expensive, but it is challenging. My first two times sitting for the exam, I had to wait about 45 days just to find out, I failed the section. It was tough. In fact for the next, 6 months I would go without testing at all because I was afraid of failure. I told myself I wasn’t smart enough, or maybe their were other career paths I should take. Eventually, I dove back in and passed all four parts; the last section was literally passed on the day my 18-month window ended.
“Grow through what you go through.”
I’d soon come to know failure very well, being fired from a job, failed friendships, relationship, and through the experience of being new to entrepreneurship. It turns out, the failure has been more positive, than anything. Don’t get me wrong, when you are failing, it feels pretty damn terrible and in that moment it can be hard to imagine a positive outcome. Then, adding salt to injury, you go back to Insta-perfect, and all the wins make your situation sting a little more.
Failure has taught me a ton of lessons, and has been character building in many facets of my life. In fact, I think I’ve learned more lessons from failure, then I have from the things I’ve achieved instant success with. My most valuable lessons in failure are:
- Grow Through what You Go Through – Seeing failure as data points for improvement and growth, allows me to understand what is necessary to actually achieve what I have initially set out to, and to make the appropriate adjustments. Fail upward, each time!
- Establish an Internal Barometer – Tons of advice is being thrown out, via social media, friends, colleagues, you name it. However, through failure, I’ve learned to seek wisdom over advice and to rely on my intuition to decipher between the two!
- Be the Highest Possible Expression of Who YOU Are – The quickest way to fail is to try to be successful through someone else’s lens. You can’t compare your Chapter 1 with someone else’s Chapter 20. Also flip limiting critiques and magnify them. That is what makes your version special!
- If it Won’t Matter in Five Years, it Shouldn’t Matter Today – Take nothing personal, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Dust yourself off, and when the time is right, try again!
- Manage Your Mental Health – If you’re in a season of failing, and you can not handle seeing highlight reels, TAKE A BREAK FROM SOCIAL MEDIA (yes I am yelling)! It is ok to leave and comeback, in the name of protecting your mental health.
- Start Now – Whatever goals and dreams you have, don’t wait until everything is perfect to start. Start working on them now, and if you happen to fail at any point, use that experience to improve what you have already began.