7 Surprising Ways Failure Can Boost Confidence
If your marriage ends, your business is a flop, your big speech was an embarrassing display of unpreparedness, you lose a major account because of a faux-pas, you get fired, you fail an exam, you give up before the finish line… you probably feel like a failure.
And that can send your confidence down the drain!
Here’s a surprise, though.
Failure can actually boost your confidence the next time.
Most of us have experienced major life failures and the memories sting. If the memory is still painful, then you haven’t recovered. You still berate yourself for failing to live up to expectations (either your own or others).
Does this do you any good?
All it does is erode your confidence even more.
The truth is, we ALL fail. The difference is that some USE their failures to grow even bolder, while others HIDE from failures because they’re unwilling to experience that emotional pain again, and they never try again.
Here’s how to boost your confidence after you’ve failed. This is especially powerful when you’ve failed big.
- Accept that failure feels bad but don’t shy away from the feeling.
It’s just a feeling. It will pass. Let yourself experience the feeling, but do not allow yourself to get caught up in self-bashing. The feeling will pass, and you’ll be okay, and if you learn from the failure, you’ll come out on top.
- Be honest.
This is perhaps lesson #1 from failure. We love to play the victim and we fear what others may think, and so we avoid taking responsibility and we avoid communicating mistakes. If you ‘fess up, yes, you won’t be perceived the same by others, but they will also appreciate your honesty and your courage in admitting your role in the failure. You’re human. You screw up. You move on. We all do!
- Learn to ask for help and support from people.
If your ego is too afraid of asking for help, you’re just making things harder than they need to be (and perhaps the failure could have been avoided in the first place). You may need help raising capital.
You have to ASK. You may need help solving a problem. You have to ASK. You may need help with a relationship. You have to ASK.
It make take several big failures before you figure that one out. Hopefully sooner rather than later! And by the way, make sure that you surround yourself with people who support you, challenge you, encourage you and hold you accountable – not the brown-nosers or the naysayers, both of which are useless.
- Be realistic.
There is NOTHING wrong with idealism, but too much idealism can backfire too because it doesn’t encourage planning, systems and persistence; instead, too much idealism encourages “letting things evolve” – which they may, or may not… depending on the amount of direction you give.
There’s so much to learn from failure!
- Write down your ideas.
Simple. But we often forget. Flashes of brilliance are just that – flashes. If you write them down, you can use those ideas later but if you forget to write them down, you will forget that you even had an idea. Get in the habit of carrying a teeny notebook with you – or use your cell phone to take notes. This will give you the confidence that you are indeed a creative and innovative being… and it will give you more tools to work with next time!
- Make slow, consistent change
Instead of doing a 180 and completely changing the way you do things (because often, this is a quick way to get even more frustrated and return to your old ways), think about it in terms of trajectory.
If you were going in a perfectly straight line and you weren’t getting the results you want (you’re failing), then it may be that you only need to make a tiny, tiny correction of just 1%. At first you may not notice that anything has changed but as you continue in this new direction you’ll see the lines diverge, and in time that divergence will be significant. Examples: run 1% further or 1% faster; work on your idea for 1% more time; blog 1% more; spend 1% more time with your spouse; meditate 1% more; change 1% more of your thoughts to positive; study 1% more.
1% isn’t much – maybe literally a few minutes of time, or a few pedal strokes. But, it’s an EASY habit to cultivate so you’re out of excuses as to why you can’t… Later you can add another 1%.
- Be curious.
Dissect the experience as you would in biology class and try to figure out exactly where things went wonky. What could you have done better? What could you have done, that you didn’t? What intuition did you ignore? What did you (falsely) think you could do better, when you were presented with advice? Isn’t it interesting, that you did (x) and the result was (y)?
Don’t go overboard with analysis or you’ll get bogged down in it. Just try to identify the KEY mistakes that led to the failure – that means owning up to your role in the failure. If you identify the keys, you can avoid those mistakes next time.
- Learn to not take it so seriously.
Play more, work less. That means, you can PLAY 100 hours a week doing what you love to do (and still be professional and effective, AND make time for fun and relationships and self-care)… or you can WORK 100 hours doing what you don’t like, being too serious and driven for the sake of success. It IS about the journey. It IS about the experience of the present moment. It IS about NOW. If “now” is miserable, the outcome won’t matter. If “now” is happy, the failure won’t sting as much, and you’ll bounce back much quicker, ready to play with the next thing.
Part of not taking it so seriously is realizing that in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. “Failure” is something you decide happened. It’s totally arbitrary.
Again – what if you had a BLAST in building your business and it doesn’t take off. Or you giggled the whole way through a bike race and you came in dead last. Is that a failure? I would argue it is not because you had a great time!
Use these tips to become confident in trying again. And do try, because that’s where the fun and fulfilment in life are at their peak!
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