Failure: The experience you need to move forward

When we don’t get the promotion we want, or our first business venture falls flat, it’s hard not to take it personally.

We see the failure as proof that success is even less attainable, and that we are far from meeting our goals.

In short, we feel like just giving up.

But, did you know that history is full of people who didn’t give up after multiple failures?

Abraham Lincoln was demoted in the military, lost elections, and had many business failures.

Oprah Winfrey was fired from a job as a TV reporter because she was told she was “unfit for TV!”

A failure is never a reason not to move forward.

Studies have found that people who are optimistic about life and think they are healthy tend to live longer than people who think they are sick. Our success in life has much more to do with how we view the world around us than we would think.

People who think they have control over a situation will always be more successful than those who feel like everything just happens to them. So when you have a setback, get rejected, or keep hearing “no,” it’s time to take a step back and focus on what you can control.

How can your failure give you valuable information for moving forward? What did it teach you to do or not do? Thinking of the setback as a set of facts rather than a reflection of your personality or self-worth will keep you from feeling overwhelmed and depressed about the experience.

People who “fail forward” also aren’t afraid of rejection.

So often the fear of hearing “no” keeps us from asking someone to give us a chance or from applying for a job or to a school. If you can learn not to take rejection personally, then literally nothing will stop you from moving forward. You will be invincible.

How do you learn to fail?

Taking risks and asking for opportunities is a muscle you have to exercise every day. Pick up the phone or send an email and go after something you want. If you get a no, ask what would make you a better candidate or make them consider changing their minds. Take notes, and use this knowledge to move forward.

The great baseball player Babe Ruth is known for his many home runs, but he had twice as many strikeouts in his career. “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run,” he said.

The great thing about getting used to hearing “no,” is that eventually someone will say yes. So don’t be afraid to fail, and embrace it as a part of life.

Your successes will seem much sweeter when you’ve put in the effort to pick yourself up again and keep going forward.