A question was posed on a popular Instagram account along the lines of - 'How do you overcome failure while maintaining confidence and motivation?' Rather than awaiting the interview to follow, I took a moment to reflect. Because as someone who loves to set goal after goal, shortcomings are not a stranger to my lifestyle. So how can I continue to navigate the ever-evolving world of entrepreneurship, despite those moments of defeat? I don't believe there is one magic answer to this question. We all deal with failure in our own way, which leads me to believe that coping becomes a personalized systematic mantra that we sing ourselves to sleep by.
Uncover the Lesson
Naturally, we've all been a victim to failure. And if you're paying attention, hopefully you've learned a thing or two along the way. Often times, I think lessons are only really apparent in retrospect. Whether that be realizing you shouldn't have put the burner on so high after the smoke alarm goes off minutes later, or putting the pieces together after a bad breakup that maybe, just maybe, your friends were right and you probably shouldn't have 'wasted' those past 3 years. Like I said - retrospect. Unfortunately, some lessons in failure take a little longer to surface.
Utilize the Lesson
Now if you burnt last night's dinner, are you still going to attempt cooking tonight? Probably. You have to eat and take out gets expensive. And I hope you're not that distraught over a simple mistake you made the night before. So why after a bad breakup, are we so hesitant to try again? As if love is destined to fail us once more. Why do we let some failures eat us alive, while we brush others off like they never took the slightest hit to our ego? When we fail, our sense of self can take a hit, and because everyone gathers a sense of self from different experiences and circumstances; what seems a failure to me may not even affect you, and visa versa. But rather than stew in the negativity that may arise when we let our ego take over, can we turn failure into something useful? Instead of acting on self deprecation, can you turn a lesson into a useful tool to hopefully learn a thing or two for next time. So much so, that we can turn coping, into thriving.
I'm no expert, but I've yet to let yesterday's failures be reason enough to give up on my dreams. Why not? Because every failure is just a speed bump my friend. It'll slow you down, but it's no reason to stop moving forward. In saying this, some failures should probably be analyzed a little deeper than being treated with Halmark's finest cliche. Sometimes, we need a big defeat to show us that we're on the wrong track. And don't be fooled, changing your course of action doesn't necessarily mean quitting.
Mind the Ego
Ego; it can become your greatest driving force, or the dark shadow that will stand in your way. And realistically, the choice is yours. So, what feeds your sense of self? Is it your wealth of knowledge, your punctuality, your preparedness? Or is it your ability to make others laugh, your tenacity, your kindness? Either way, we are human, and we carry just about every trait under the sun to some extent, even if that means we're only a little aggressive, or a little manipulative. My point is, we derive our own perceived value from various traits, and depending on the make up of your sense of self, a lack of certain traits will basically attack your self worth. So how do we manage to map our way through failures, counteracting the damage done to our confidence? Well, if you can get to know yourself well enough, you'll learn what drives your ego, and you'll evidently learn how to dismiss that same ego, all in the same breath.
Taking the time to learn about what makes me 'me,' has been a saving grace, to say the least. Looking at both my accomplishments, as well as putting the spotlight on those moments that I'm somewhat ashamed of, has made it a little more clear as to what my values are. And when I do experience failure, I try my best to consider where that failure came from. Was I aligned with my values at the time, or did I somehow lose track of those positive traits that make me 'me?' And through this, I've realized that sometimes that onus is on me, and sometimes it's out of my control. So when I fall short, it's up to me to make that promise to myself to be better tomorrow. And when circumstance is out of my control, can I find ways to overcome these obstacles by utilizing the skills and knowledge that I do have. By strengthening my sense of self, I'm able to find that confidence and motivation that's necessary when we experience failure. And failure is just that - an experience. Which is temporary, and filled with life lessons. So, what values make you, you? What failures have not compromised your sense of self, but have been a product of your own compromises? And what circumstances have made you question your value? How can you overcome those obstacles? Because failure is a natural and necessary component to life. How you tackle it, is the real test of character.