The Forgotten Key to Success: Failure

by Lauren Schneidewind on December 21, 2015

Eminem talks about failure a good bit in his music, and this slightly modified one is my favorite, “Success is my only **** option, failure's not.” However, this begs the question; why do they have to be mutually exclusive? Why can’t we have our cake and eat it too, I mean come on, why would we want to bake a cake and not eat it???

All great successes are paired with failures. We just don’t talk about them; we focus solely on the successful outcome rather than the journey to get there. Why do we feel the need to sweep our missteps under the rug as if they didn’t happen? We are making a huge mistake by doing that. A better approach would to be to redefine and adjust how we view failure.

“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” ― Thomas A. Edison

While Thomas Edison was busy being one of the most notorious inventors in American history, he made several famous comments about embracing failure. I am not sure if that was his attempt to save face or if he was wise beyond his years, but I am going to go with the latter. Let’s all take a page from Edison and embrace our failures and use them as a launching pad for success later down the road.

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” ― Thomas A. Edison

Thomas Edison was a really smart guy...Failure Makes Us Stronger. We have all been told, "what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger,” we might not like to hear it at the time, but it’s true. When I think back on pivotal events in my life, they usually revolve around tough times and struggles. With all due respect to myself, I love when I succeed, but honestly, my greatest learnings come from when I don’t.

When we are successful at something, we tend to embrace our accomplishments and then try to reproduce them. We tend to not take that deeper dive into our accomplishments because they were a success, so what’s the point? However, when we make a misstep we tend to spend more time analyzing the situation. We use these times as learning moments (or maybe we should since it’s more constructive than being angry). Taking the time to assess all of what we have done whether it is successful or not yet, we can find crucial learnings from each one of these steps. Next time an event occurs take time out to analyze the situation regardless of the outcome.

Take Time to Analyze the Missteps. Let’s take a queue from the sports industry, which analyzes failures and losses better than any other industry. Let’s adjust our thinking for a moment and embrace failures and use them to our advantage. Let’s make them learning experiences for not only the individuals involved, but also our entire team. This is not the time to make an example of anyone because we did not have the desired outcome. This is the time to assess the situation and come up with reasons why something did not work. This is the time to use our 20/20 hindsight and make a bigger and better plan for next time.

Another approach to embracing failure is by understanding other people's or company's missteps as well. I love to learn from someone else's mistakes in an attempt to reduce the amount I fall on my face. Learning from someone else's misfortunes can be arguably just as important as trying to emulate others for their successes.

What do you say about taking a queue from Jennifer Lawrence’s rulebook and own our missteps and become stronger because of them!

How do you view failure? Let’s start a conversation!

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