There is a positive upside to failure

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It is not unusual to fear failure if you are unaware of the positive experiences that can be reaped from failing. How can something you fear be a positive experience? Failing means you are being active, doing something, moving forward in life.

If you attempt nothing you cannot fail; nor can you have an opportunity to achieve, and potentially succeed.  Never giving yourself a chance to fail means living a stagnant existence.

Often failure is associated with shame. There is no shame in trying something and failing. The shame is in not learning from your failure, or worse yet, not trying at all.

You may have been told at a very young age to embrace your mistakes and use them as a learning tool. You might have heard the saying, “If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again,”  or, “Good, better, best, never will I rest, till my good is better and my better best.” These popular adages, handed down through the generations, hold profound truths about failure and its proper place in your life.

Failure is actually a positive learning experience. Failure teaches many character-building life lessons such as:

Compassion

Only those who try and fail can truly understand the suffering and angst of others who have misfortune and lack of success. It would be a sorry world indeed without empathy and compassion. Fortunate is the individual whose compassion for his fellow man has been heightened by the experience of having failed himself.

Patience

You learn to be patient when your plans go astray and you are forced to pick yourself up and start over. Challenges are seldom overcome in one swift try. Often you make a plan, it does not work out, and you patiently try again and again until success is achieved. In hindsight, many of you might rightfully say, “I wouldn’t be where I am today without that unfortunate setback.”

Humility

If you experience nothing but success, might you potentially strut around like proud peacock? Failure teaches you to be humble, to take nothing for granted. When you see another in the grip of failure, you are able to sincerely say, “There but for the grace of God go I,” and mean it. There is no one more admirable than a humble successful person.

Perseverance

One of the most positive side effects of failure is acquiring the virtue of perseverance. Every accomplishment in life is achieved by trying and failing and then trying again.

Determination leads to perseverance which culminates your repeated efforts into achievement. If you give up too soon, you may never taste the sweetness of success.

Flexibility

When you fail in one aspiration, you are apt to learn to survey your options and switch to a plan B or change your plans altogether. A failure is a great tool for learning to be flexible. Without the experience of failure, you might never discover all of your talents and skills.

Failure is not permanent.  Never dismiss yourself with the negative declaration, “I am a failure.” Thomas Edison said it best when he exclaimed, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” Without Edison’s positive attitude about failure, the light bulb might not have been invented.

In the wise words of Sir Winston Churchill, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

You do not become successful overnight, nor do you become humble, compassionate, patient and persevering until you have walked through the fire of failure.

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