Some weeks back, I failed at something so monumental that it knocked me off my life axis. All my future plans and dreams went out of the window temporarily.
I failed at something I prepared for, for several months. I haven’t done that volume of work in a while. Incredible goodwill and equity were deployed. And I prayed for so long and believed I had clarity of direction.
When I got the rejection email, I went into instant denial, disbelieving what I was reading. And then, I experienced instant diarrhea and headache. Interestingly, on the same, day I had an important team meeting. So, I needed to drag myself out of bed, even though I just wanted to weep.
I’m coming to terms with the failure, but I still cry about it. It is what it is.
Learning Points from Failure
Here are some lessons I gleaned from what happened:
1. Failure sucks. There’s no way to put a positive spin on it. It’s sad and terrible. So, allow yourself to feel your feelings. Weep or rant if you need to. It’s not a pleasant experience at all.
2. Go back to God for help. It’s good to ask, “Why?”, but it’s more important to inquire, “What next?” Avoid a kneejerk reaction to failure or immediately moving into problem-solving mode. Rather, pause to listen. God may have important perspectives on your next steps.
3. Cry in private and among friends, but if you’re a leader, your work will not wait. So, you must keep going. Being busy may not only distract you from your immediate woes but it will also provide broader validation to your shattered self-worth.
4. Resist fear. It will be very hard, but you must stay hopeful because you must try again. You can’t give up and let failure win.
Additional Steps to Help You Rally
5. Refuel and re-strategize. Since your first trial took so much out of you, you’ll need energy for the next time around.
6. New data and fresh equity are required for your future attempts. There are some people you can no longer go back to for help. Therefore, fresh material must be collated and new reasons adduced. You can’t just repackage old stuff for the next endeavor.
7. If you can, see failure as part of life. In the moment, this philosophical approach is difficult. But recall that all the stories you’ve heard about great people include heartbreaking failures and challenges. This will not be the last setback you’ll face. But you will get better at overcoming and succeeding.
8. Know your future is still bright. Understand that God’s promises are true. He did not fail you. All things will eventually work together for your good.
If you’ve experienced a bitter failure like I have, I’m sending a big hug and some encouragement. Everything will be okay.
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