You learn more from failure than success. Failure gives rise to two things: 1. Lessons learned that will feed into future planning, and 2. Allow for self-reflection.
Due to this, we should never be afraid of failure but rather focus on these two elements if we do fail. Failure provides knowledge of the steps required to succeed. Military forces are arguably the most prominent examples of using failure to drive success. These organisations rely on their capacity to learn from past mistakes to ensure future planning overcomes potential for the same points of failure.
Based on this learning, most modern militaries are far more engaged in training than operations. Everyone can use this as an example of how to deal with failure in any aspect of our life. Take a failed relationship for example. Most people do not focus on the right aspects to learn from failed relationships, we tend to try and allocate blame. We either blame ourselves or our ex or some intangible thing without trying to learn from the mistakes we made.
Having been through a divorce and multiple failed relationships, I did the same thing. I didn’t consider the root cause of the failure and eventually had an epiphany. Instead of trying to find the person I was inherently compatible with, I thought I was in love with someone but instead was in love with the idea I had of them. I never really understood or connected with who they actually were.
When I realised I could apply the same root cause analysis system I had learned in my professional career to failures in my life, I had much more success in finding what I needed. I took the lessons learned from my previous relationships and understood what I had to do to be successful in that aspect of my life.
This is only one part of a complex picture for most people and I understand it is hard. Particularly when emotions are involved. But emotional responses to failure do not make for good future planning. Allocation of blame only results in the resentment of ourselves or others and that in turn creates more failure in our next attempt.
The most common time I see this allocation of blame is in a situation where someone cheats on their partner. Almost invariably, the person who cheats is universally vilified by everyone for their actions without considering why that happened in the first place. The ‘victim’ in this scenario almost never sits back and reflects the root cause of the problem. In many cases the attitude and actions of the victim are very much a part of the problem.
I have used relationships as the primary example here for a reason. They are often the number one place people fail at learning from past mistakes. We don’t self-reflect or assess where we went wrong in a constructive manner. A friend of mine recently went through a break up and allocates most of the blame on herself rather than looking at the causes holistically. Undoubtedly both parties in that breakup had their fair share of blame for the bust up.
Essentially, we fail at using a logical approach to assessing our failures and that needs to stop. Not just relationships but in all parts of our lives. If you want that promotion and aren’t getting it, sit back learn from the failure and build a plan to success. If you aren’t sustainably happy, sit down and think about the why. What is making you unhappy and how can you plan to succeed in finding it.
If you are stuck in a spiral of failure it is usually because you are doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. This is one of the definitions of insanity. I trust that most of my readers aren’t insane, so if you are constantly doing the same thing and expecting a different result you need to wake up and make a change.