How to embrace failure to become stronger

business person doing work

Failure is what helps us grow. Here are some tips to help you flourish.

I write about imposter syndrome because I live it. I’ve overcome it but it creeps in and there’s nothing in this world that will make you feel more like an imposter than a big, fat fail.

The truth is, imposter syndrome is designed to protect us from failure. It stops us from putting ourselves out there. But when you do start to really live your truth, there may come a time when you make a mistake.

Christ, I’ve made plenty in my journey to where I am today. A successful businessperson, journalist and motorsport consultant, as well someone who is in control of her anxiety — mistakes are a fact of life but it helps me work out what’s working and what’s not.

Remembering that failure makes you stronger is an important first step. You need to understand that it’s not a bad thing to fail.

Which really means that failure isn’t failure at all.

Social media shows us all these people succeeding, doing great things and making money but this perfect example doesn’t show us the lows, the mistakes, the failures. It’s so easy to feel like you’re the only one making mistakes but you’re not alone.

Everyone makes mistakes and the truly successful people out there are probably making more than most because they’re willing to put themselves out there.

Just because business people, influencers, and celebs aren’t shouting about their failures doesn’t mean they’re not having them. In fact, the failures they do have are probably directly contributing to those successes you hear so much about.

The reason is because we learn from our mistakes. No one bought tickets to your event? Look at what you did and think about why you failed. What can you do next time to ensure the event is a success?

Failures do not make you a failure.

Failures make you stronger.

Here are some examples of how you can turn a seeming failure into something positive.

The Bad Grade

Scenario one: You did terribly on an essay and got a bad grade. It’s easy to dwell on that failure and think about how rubbish you are but there’s a better way; one that will protect your mental health while making you stronger.

Instead of feeling bad and letting it knock your confidence, look at where you went wrong. Did you misunderst­and the assignment, or was there a concept you struggled to grasp? Maybe you just didn’t give yourself enough time to do a good job. Be honest with yourself, did you rush?

There’s a lot you can learn from this. Firstly, If the brief tripped you up, how can you be more clear in the future? Asking a classmate or lecturer for clarification is a good starting point. If you got a bad grade on an exam, what could you do to improve your study process further down the line?

If there’s something you haven’t grasped that’s responsible for your grade, you can take steps to better understand this in the future. Extra research, a tutor, or maybe even speaking with your lecturer for advice or further guidance. Uncovering any weakness might be tough but the sooner you can address it, the better.

You Screwed Up With a Client

Scenario two: You make a mistake in your business that upset a client.

This is a great exercise in customer service and what you can do to keep a client happy when things go wrong. From a business point of view, It’s really important to own your mistakes and work with the client to rec­tify the issue. Afterwards, you need to look at why the mistake occurred.

Was it down to poor communication between you and the client? If that’s the case, how do you improve your communication in the future?

Did you misunderstand a brief? We’ve all been there. Next time could you call the client to clarify what they’ve sent?

Or is there a way to implement project reviews throughout the process so everyone is on the same page at all times?

I’ve been here and it doesn’t feel very nice for a client to tell you they’re unhappy but don’t take it personally. Instead of feeling butthurt, do your best to rectify the situation.

I make mistakes with clients all the time, and I know it’s not because I’m rubbish at my job. It’s because there are email issues, I miss something, they don’t communicate something properly, or I make a judgment call and it’s not quite right. I’m happy to admit this because I am human. But if something goes wrong on my end, you can be sure I’ll admit to it and work out the best way to fix the situation.

This is why my clients stay on board, its why they applaud me for my great communication skills. There might be a little twinge of guilt or remorse on my end but the important fact of the matter is that the situation gets fixed.

Not going to lie, this was a HUGE learning curve for me. The first few bits of feedback I got for my work that had little critiques in really hurt but I used these criticisms to grow. I rarely make the same mistake twice.

You Didn’t Get the Job

Scenario three: Let’s say you didn’t get a job you were in the running for. Much of the time this could be down to there being a better-suited candidate out there, which isn’t really a failure on your part but it does present an opportunity to learn.

How could you be more suited to the roles you’re applying for? How can you stand out? Or, maybe you did really balls up the interview… What will you do differently next time?

I could write a whole book on interview techniques so I’m just going to leave you with a few tips.

  • Be presentable
  • Be memorable
  • Be enthusiastic
  • Ask questions

Remember, you’re evaluating them as much as the other way around. If you really fluffed an interview and think it didn’t go well, think about how you can improve in the future, and control your nerves.

If you need more help, you could enlist the help of a careers coach, or mentor. There are plenty of schemes out there designed to help people with interview techniques and into specific job roles. Even LinkedIn has a mentorship scheme and many Facebook groups do too.

In all of these scenarios, you’d never know there was room for improvement if you hadn’t been through that failure.

Pushing through the fear of failure won’t just help you get more done but it’ll help you become stronger too.

I can’t promise you that the sting of criticism will fade but it does get easier. It’s all about reframing how you feel about this kind of feedback. Start to look at it as a positive and you’ll soon learn to embrace failure and the pain and stress of doing something wrong, or getting critique will become much, much, much more manageable.

Let’s celebrate your failures, tell us what you learned from them in the comments.

Writing things to help you succeed. A Jess-of-all-trades. Usually found around race cars. Grab my freelancer pricing calculator:

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