Growing from Failure

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Douglas Wise
  • 65th Civil Engineer Squadron commander
"If everything you do works, you are not trying hard enough."

We all experience failure in our lives. At one time or another, we run into an obstacle that stymies our intellect or abilities. Every person you meet has experienced some type of setback in their lives; even the most successful people have failed. It is how you address and move on after a failure that determines your future. Whether you learn from your error and move on or dwell in self-recrimination and negative behavior lies with one person: you. In this article I will outline some of my beliefs on how to face (and overcome) difficulties in life.

Learn from mistakes: Everyone makes mistakes. It is your response that is most important. If you don't learn from your errors, you are bound to repeat them. Adjust your actions so as to avoid doing the wrong thing again. By learning from your mistakes, you move forward to improve yourself and your place in life.

Self Analyze (but don't agonize): When you make a mistake, self analysis is required. Why did this happen ... what was the root cause? Identify the shortcoming and determine an approach to ensure that it does not recur. Self analysis is healthy, to a point. If you are re-playing an event through your head you are now caught in a negative loop. Once you have internalized the situation, put the mistake behind you and move on.

Don't blame others for your situation: Blaming others for your failure compounds the issue. You failed twice. The first time was the failure itself; the second time was blaming someone else for your shortcoming. Blaming others is negative behavior; you put down others unnecessarily and do not learn from your mistakes. Take responsibility for your failures, own up, and press on.

Step out of your comfort zone - take a risk: There is a clear difference between those that are successful in life and those that are not. Successful people step outside their comfort zone, take risks, face failures head-on and eventually realize success. A common lament you hear from unsuccessful people is "what could have been" or "what should have been" if "this" or "that" happened in their lives. Take charge of your life and take a risk; if you don't shoot, you will never score!

Weaknesses and Strengths: One should know both their strengths and weaknesses. By identifying your weaknesses, you know where you need to seek improvement and develop yourself. By knowing your strengths, you know where you excel. When you face an issue that is in an area of your 'weakness', previous preparation and assessment will come to bear. You can also draw upon those around you with the necessary expertise. The important fact is to know your limitations and overcome them while leveraging your subject matter experts, thereby minimizing mistakes and failures.

Confidence: A mark of a successful person is how they approach a failure. Taking the failure in stride through acknowledgement and a confident approach allows one to continue moving forward. Recognize your mistake and use it as a positive opportunity for growth.

Life is full of ups and downs; you never know what it will throw at you. At some point in all of our lives we will realize a setback or failure. It is how we react to these obstacles in our lives that spell our future. The next time you fail at something, take it as an opportunity to learn and move forward in a positive and confident manner. You are a winner; focus on your goals and don't let any obstacle keep you from reaching your potential!