Rejection. Losing. Failure. Nobody strives for them. No athlete sets out to lose, no entrepreneur’s goal is bankruptcy. But as if an act of divine mercy, there’s positives to be found in the negatives. In fact, successful people often preach as Gospel the value found in failure.
Denis Waitley said it well. “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing and being nothing.”
The mark of a successful person lies in their response to negative situations. They lick their wounds but stay on the battlefield. They find strength in their scars. Here are 10 hidden blessings to cushion rejection, losing and failure.
1. You’ll clarify your passions.
Many of us struggle with decision making. Folks with creative energy typically have their hand in multiple pies. But even a jack-of-all-trades knows there’s a limit to how thin you can spread yourself.
Often, failure and losing result from diminished passion. You'll realize you weren’t as passionate about that project as first thought. The pruning effect is a positive. As you clear your plate a little, you'll make more room for what really excites you, and direct your energy toward that. Focused energy is when you’re most effective. Failure gets rid of fluff.
2. You’ll uncover new skills.
Remember when George Bush nimbly dodged that shoe aimed at his head? Nobody thought he had the skill to do that. And I suspect neither did he. Until that moment.
Facing challenges and enduring a loss compels you to gather up resources and develop skills beyond your arsenal. In cases of “hysterical strength,” where people lift vehicles off someone trapped, it’s the negative situation that creates the spike of adrenaline needed to act beyond one’s capability.
Negative experiences cause us to respond in ways beyond what we thought possible. The obstacle beckons to be overcome. To rise to the occasion, there needs to be an occasion.
3. You’ll find out who your friends are.
Take a spill and you’ll see who emerges out of the Facebook crowd to lift you up. Sure, everyone’s busy, but we make time for the things we value and care about. “I’m too busy” can be translated, “It’s not that important.”
Hitting rock bottom has a way of uncovering the healthy, genuine relationships from the detrimental. You’ll want to keep investing in those who are nursing your wounds, and distancing yourself from those silent and nowhere to be seen.
4. You’ll check your blind spots.
It only takes one accident for a driver to never forget to check their blind-spot again. A harsh way to learn, but some changes in behavior only happen with major shocks to the system.
While there are habits and skills you haven’t yet acquired, failures remind us of habits and skills we do possess, but are simply lazy in implementing. After suffering a burglary, you’ll never forget to lock the screen door again.
5. You’ll Burn away pride and arrogance.
Nobody is immune to pride and arrogance. To say you’re beyond pride and arrogance is a little…well…prideful and arrogant. Losing is the glass of water for that bitter pill of pride. But that unpleasant process gives birth to humility. Which is perhaps the most attractive and profitable virtue anyone can possess.
As the well known proverb goes, pride goeth before the fall. Rejection and loss exchanges pride for humility, and humility may be the saviour that keeps you from a truly damaging fall.
6. You’ll grow elephant skin.
The shins of Muay Thai fighters can break baseball bats. The micro-fractures from hours of kicking heavy bags become filled with calcium, resulting in abnormal bone density just as muscle fibers grow as a result of micro-tears in the gym.
The adage rings true, it’s the pain that brings the gain. Advice 101 for anyone stepping out to pursue their dream is prepare for rejection, criticism and haters. With each punch thrown your way, you’ll realize you can’t please everyone, that the issue lies more with them than with you and the impact will start to soften.
7. You’ll never again wonder “what if?”
The question of “what if?” can cause hours on end staring out the window. When that curiosity is pursued only to find you’ve boarded the wrong plane, failure is the blessing that pulls you right off. You’ll no longer be kept up at night wondering about that other option.
Curiosity can cripple your consciousness and distract from the work you should be doing. But sometimes engaging your own nagging is the only way to silence it.
Seeing his father drink beer, a teenage Tony Robbins begged his mother to let him try. Not only did she let him try, she gave him a whole six-pack, and wouldn’t let him leave until he drank every drop. Tony has never touched alcohol since. The taste of his own vomit may have something to do with that.
8. You’ll finally ask for help.
Everyone with passion and ambition is tragically plagued with superhero-syndrome. That becomes harmful when the candle is burning at both ends, drifting toward burnout.
When the word “help” disappears from your vocabulary, it’s found when you crash and burn. You'll realize the skill of delegation is critical for your health and progress. The pain teaches us to move from viewing help negatively as a form of weakness, to positively recognizing that success is expanding your own capacity by forming a team.
9. You’ll go to the drawing board.
Failure encourages you to engage in iteration. The process of reevaluating and refining produces a better result. As the saying goes, Why fix it if it ain’t broke? Some things need fixing, but reevaluation seldom happens before something breaks.
One of the greatest human achievements is the 110-mile swim from Cuba to Florida, without a shark cage. The only individual in the world to accomplish that feat is 64-year old Diana Nyad in 2013. It was her fifth attempt. She tried once in 1978 and three more times from 2011 – 2012 before succeeding.
One major reason her fourth attempt was cut short was jellyfish stings that left her face puffy and swollen. This time, she wore a full body suit, gloves and a mask at night—when jellyfish rise to the surface.
She failed, went back to the drawing board, made iterations, then succeeded.
10. You’ll appreciate your success.
Value and meaning become heightened in the face of difficulty. The greatest celebrations come from the toughest battles. You’ll realize the dream isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. When the journey includes getting back on your feet and dusting yourself off, you’ll be more inclined to stop when you see roses, and express a little more gratitude at the finish line.
There are just 14 “eight-thousanders” on Earth, meaning the tiny number of mountains higher than 8,000 meters. Few recognize the name Kangchenjunga while Everest, just 262 meters higher, is a household name. The failures and deaths attempting to climb Everest make it the most respected and celebrated climb.
The bitterness of every failure adds sweetness to every victory.