8 Ways Focusing on Improvement Will Pull Us Out of Any Failure
The best response to failure is to fix what went wrong and try again.
Failures are inevitable, but overcoming them is 100 percent possible.
None of us will get through life without experiencing many failures, so we may as well find the path through. Failures are not endings. Failures are tests of our character. They hurt, for certain, but they force us to grow in the places we need increased knowledge, training and expertise.
As we are led to these places, we must take advantage and make it our goal to come out better, wiser, stronger and more prepared. We must hold the mindset that we are never at the “enough” place where no improvements need to be made, or that if something goes wrong that it is not on our shoulders. To sustain success, we must always be focused on improvement.
Without a doubt, failure of any sort brings on feelings of loss, shame, embarrassment, and deep levels of disappointment. When the picture we had in our mind didn’t turn out as expected, it can feel devastating. Rejection is rejection, and it doesn’t feel good for anyone. We must humble ourselves to feel the sadness and experience the disappointment. Feelings of defeat make us look at ourselves and our decisions with deeper levels of introspection; and herein lies the gift. Grief brings us to a clear perception of what parts of the failure we need to own and have the opportunity to change, and what parts of the failure we had no influence or control over and need to let go. It is our job to fix our part, learn and move on.
Confusion always follows failure. To pull ourselves up, we must gather our pieces and begin the process of reorganizing. We need to question and analyze what went wrong, identify the holes, and start establishing and redefining what needs to change and improve.
We may find we need to clean house and get rid of some long-standing, but now ineffective procedures, devices, technologies, systems, policies or even team members who stifle success. Reorganizing could also mean taking a good hard look at ourselves, our ethics, leadership, and refining those elements internally to avoid making similar mistakes in the future.
There is that place within each and every one of us where anything is possible. We must pull from this place and not allow our failures to become fixed, unrecoverable defeats. If we can improve, we can recover from anything.
The more we re-organize and build upon what we have, the more opportunities for hope we cultivate. The more we nurture that hope, the more deeply we can reassure and ourselves and our colleagues that we will overcome the challenges at hand. Belief works in a circular fashion; the more we understand our failures, the deeper we come to believe we can overcome them.
Failure inevitably closes some doors, but it also opens new doors. Failure challenges us to expand our ideas of success, rather than to shrink them. Improvement allows us to stretch beyond our fearful thoughts. In reality, our failures prepare and force us into innovation and exploration. We must take advantage of discovering and connecting with new customers, or even new areas within our own industry we hadn’t been fully tapped into, due to not having the correct systems, technologies, or policies in place.
To improve, we must engage in intense negotiation and the sharing of opinions. We must begin to define strategies to execute on, and to try and predict how our new approach will work with those we are looking to secure business with. These discovery sessions fuel us with a renewed and fierce sense of purpose. Anything new we gained from a failure is the exact information that allows us to take our original goals and directives and “re-purpose” them with newfound knowledge, wisdom experience and expertise.
Taking ownership is crucial after a failure, and yet, we cannot repair relationships until the internal problems that caused the chaos have been resolved. Taking ownership means “fixing the problems.” It allows us to explain in detail what we’ve learned, and what has been newly defined, fixed and changed.
When we fix problems, we show our customers we care enough to listen, and to make the necessary improvements to better serve them. Even if we don’t secure their business again, we at the very least, protect and rebuild our character, integrity and reputation. Bottom line the customers we serve want to be successful. When our systems and products are improved, we can sometimes secure relationships with those who were once disgruntled.
The next step we take is to fully launch. We have repaired our internal problems, taken ownership to those who were impacted by our failure, and have made the slate clean. We can see new opportunities, have explored some to test the waters, and have had enough success in that exploration to launch all of what is new and improved.
There is no time like the present. It’s time to get busy, hustle and to trust that our team is stronger, the mission clearer, and that we are more prepared for success than ever. Failure gifts us with the experience necessary to feel confident to get back in the game.
8. Hard work
The only way to improve is to work hard. Fixing a problem or overcoming a loss doesn’t mean all is well. There is always more work needs to be done. We will encounter little failures and problems all along the way that will require overcoming, improving and recalibrating over and again.
The greatest commitment we make is to never quit. We are all capable of learning, growing and improving. We are all capable of hard work. The harder we work to solve issues, the more opportunity we have to improve our procedures and products, helping us to secure the long-standing trusting relationship between us and those we serve.
Failure is an essential part of success. We each have it in us to persist and improve. The more failure we overcome, the more we increase in our skills and the confidence we have in who we are personally and professionally. Most failures have nothing to do with ability; they have more to do with hard work and resiliency. We have unlimited supplies of both to pull from. At the end of the day each failure serves to make us stronger from within. We must make it our intention to look at failure, not as an end, but the doorway to a new beginning.
Sherrie Campbell is a psychologist in Yorba Linda, Calif., with two decades of clinical training and experience in providing counseling and psychotherapy services. She is the author of Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person. Her new book, Success Equations: A Path to an Emotionally Wealthy Life, is available for pre-order.