The idea of failure grips us at our most vulnerable internal place – our inner sense of self-esteem and self-love. Although intuitively we know that in reaching high we are guaranteed some degree of failure, when we fall short, that knowledge offers little or no consolation
Do any of these statements sound familiar?
“I’m a loser.”
“I can’t do anything right!”
“I’m such a failure.”
“ I failed in my marriage.”
“I failed as a parent.”
“I failed in my job.”
“If I fail that would be terrible!”
“I can’t stand failing!”
When we fail at something, all too often we think globally rather than in temporary terms. We think that we not only failed, but are failures. Feelings of unworthiness drag us down, leading to missteps and setbacks, defining us rather than merely offering feedback and educating us with useful information moving forward.
The good news is that we can build on our failures on the road to success. And in this article, I’ll show you how.
We can learn from our failures rather than being haunted by the ghosts of them. We can stop thinking in all-or-nothing, global ways, so that our mistakes and failures become stepping stones for success rather than millstones around our neck. Failure can help you succeed and grow.
We learn from history about many famous failures who became some of the most successful people on the planet.
Here are just a handful of examples:
- Walt Disney at age 22 was fired from a Missouri newspaper for “not being creative enough.” Then Laugh O Gram Studios, one of his first ventures, went bankrupt.
- Colonel Sanders was broke at the age of 65, and with his social security check for $105 he went on the road, living in his car for 2 years, going from restaurant to restaurant to find a place to use his chicken recipe. He was rejected 1,009 times before finding an owner that would use his recipe, leading to the franchise.
- Michael Jordan was cut from his Sophomore High School basketball team.
- “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” Theodor Seuss Geisel’s first children’s book, was rejected by over 20 publishers before being published by Vanguard Press.
- At the age of 30, Steve Jobs described himself as a public failure when he was fired from the board of Apple, the company he created. This led him to develop other ventures such as Pixar Animation and NeXT, before returning to Apple a decade later, resulting in his invention of the iPod, iPhone and iPad. In his famous speech at the 2005 Stanford Commencement, he cited this failure as being the best thing that happened to him, as he could begin again in most creative period of his life.
- Thomas Edison was fired from his job after working on his own invention for hours, which ended up in a chemical spill, damaging the floor and his boss’ desk. After he was fired, he started working for himself as an inventor. Later on, as he was working on perfecting his nickel-iron battery, he told a reporter “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
These are just a few examples of the many successful people who prove that there can be success after failure. As inspirational as these stories are, most of us remain plagued by our failures rather than motivated by them. Even if we know that failure is surmountable, it does not change the way we feel about ourselves when we experience it. Failure can take a toll on our self-esteem and feelings of self-love, diminishing our sense of optimism about our future.
So how can we feel better about ourselves? Below are 10 acts of self-love when we feel like a failure.