C-Suite Network™

Turning “Failure” Into a Learning Lesson

A few years ago, I had to deal with an opportunity that went awry in my business. It was disappointing, frustrating and complicated, to say the least. As I was going through it, I questioned my own ability to make clear decisions. I wondered how I missed some of the signs that perhaps others had seen. I spent too much time replaying every little detail. And I kept asking myself the question: Was I a failure?

Here’s the thing, I was working on a project that I so was extremely passionate and excited about that I allowed myself to be blinded by the questionable factors that were happening at the same time. I brushed it off, continued to do the work and, mind you, be successful in the process. I continued to forge on until I had to face the reality that the project was not going to find completion.

As a life coach, my job is to make sure my clients are reaching their goals in a positive and growth-filled way. I want to make sure any project I work on is going to be impactful to my audience. My message is clear — you can have the life of your dreams if you do the work and find optimism in your journey. Once I realized that for my now defunct project, I no longer felt like I had failed. I needed to find the learning lesson in my experience. I teach this to my clients every day; it was time I listened to my own advice.

Overcoming a “failure” (not a word I particularly like), isn’t easy. Here are a few steps to help you along in your process:

1. Acknowledge your “failure.” Allow yourself to say yes; give yourself the grace to recognize that your situation happened to you. This could be a difficult pill to swallow. You’re going to get questions from outsiders asking about details of your experience. It’s your choice about how much information to share. Always be honest with your responses, and be careful with oversharing.

2. Accept it. Moving through a failed situation is like moving through the grief process. There are a few stages: shock, anger, guilt and reflection followed by the upturn of rebuilding through it. You have to be able to step back and be okay with your experience in the end. Give yourself a few minutes a day to work through it, start with the bad thoughts, continue through the learning pieces and end with positive affirmations. I use this exercise with my clients and it helps tremendously.

3. Look for the positive lesson. What did you learn from your experience? What would you change or do differently? In my case, I had the opportunity to meet and network with some amazing new people with whom I will continue to cultivate relationships. I learned to be better at vetting business partners. I learned that regardless of this particular outcome, my passion for collaborating and creating will continue.

Often we see failure as a bad thing. But if we turn it around and find the learning experience in it, the situation can become a little easier to bear. I try to learn from all of my experiences, good or bad. That allows me to continue to grow and educate myself both personally and professionally.

Don’t beat yourself up too much. None of us are perfect, we all make mistakes. The most important thing is that we learn from them all.

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