One of the harder lessons for kids and adults to internalize is that failure is not always a bad thing. Many people avoid losing like the plague, finding themselves overcome with emotion when faced with even minor defeat. While it’s true that many people have a hard time finding a silver lining after experiencing failure or loss, being faced with loss can make you more resilient.
1. Your Brain Changes as You Learn
This has basis on the neural level, indicating that we learn to avoid mistakes and repeat praise-worthy behaviors. When you do something good and worth repeating, reinforcement mechanisms are activated in your brain that tell you they are worth repeating, while in a healthy person the opposite should happen for negative behaviors.
Some people aren’t able to learn from their mistakes as well as others, which is often seen in kids with behavior problems or adults with no self-control. For these people, when they make a poor choice and experience a negative consequence, they may not learn right away not to repeat the mistake again.
2. Where are They Now…
Thinking back to sitting in the crowd at a cold high school football game, all of your friends wrapped in big stadium blankets, each filled with dreams and fears, strengths and weaknesses. Some of you may have more control over your behavior than others, some of you will go on or have since gone on to achieve more than others, usually facing incomparable life paths and situations.
Comparing yourself to others is not a good way to measure success, as other’s strengths and accomplishments may not parallel our own. Finding what you are good at and what you like takes time, longer for some than others. The best way to approach failing is with a positive attitude and an optimistic eye toward the future.
3. Facing the Music
Desperate to avoid negative attention from authority figures, many people remain convinced that by standing out they will endure criticism and ultimately fail. Overcoming personal challenges is key when attempting to reach your full potential. Failure is a powerful tool in achieving success, but how is one supposed to know their strengths and weaknesses without at least some experience of trial and error? While receiving criticism from either an authority figure or from your peers can be anxiety-provoking and something you want to avoid, their criticism can help you to learn ways in which you can best improve and do better for next time.
Many people that were once anxious about operating beyond the status quo reported substantial reduction in future anxiety after having endured an arduous situation and lived to tell the tale. This can serve as an empowering message for others, with the moral of the story being that once you take the leap, you’ll likely be glad that you did.
4. Small Risks, Big Reward
Playing it safe puts you at risk of making the same mistakes again and again, while taking risks is the only way to accomplish something that has never been done before. The most successful people are capable of putting their mistakes behind them, they avoid mourning their blunders in order to focus on the task at hand. By putting themselves in compromising situations in attempt to make their mark, these are individuals that are able to persevere in the face of adversity and failure and who have built up their resilience to defeat through maintained exercise of trial and error. As with any skill, while natural talent does come into play, it takes time to build an ability.
Operating within your strengths but outside of your comfort zone is the best way to widen its area, but this isn’t something to go about haphazardly. Reaching your potential requires careful preparation, along with awareness of the skill set that you have at your disposal. Having a positive attitude when facing a challenge can make a bigger difference than you think. By telling yourself that you are capable of something, your efforts will reflect what you think you can achieve. If you set your sights too low, not only are you giving yourself excuses to be lazy, but you fail to dream as big as you can dream.
Albert Bandura once stated, “Self-belief does not necessarily ensure success, but self-disbelief assuredly spawns failure.” When you set a big goal, and by accepting that failure is apart of the journey, you can unleash what you would truly produce had no one been watching.
6. The Master Was Once the Student
Masters of any discipline, whether they be musicians, mathematicians, or scientists, spend thousands of hours practicing their craft, only becoming experts after persevering through loss towards perfection. As Thomas Edison claimed when asked how it felt to fail so many times before inventing the light bulb “I did not fail, there were simply 1,000 steps needed to invent the light bulb.”
Finding better ways to manage your self and your goals is the first step to success, after that much of the magic behind it is managing to find the humility to commit yourself to systematized repeated failure. For many, the difficulty lies in making the first step at all.
Doing something you’ve never done before keeps many people from pursuing what they might otherwise. The experience you gain from doing something novel leaves a lasting impression on your brain and leaves you ready to conquer your goals. Losing can lead you to pursue paths that you never thought you might, which is how some of the happiest people report finding their niche. When approaching a harrowing task, remember that failure is not always a bad thing, and that it will usually bring you closer to your true self.