Failing is Good and Acknowledging it is Better

I remember the ad – “daag acche hain”… it did set a tone that its ok to get dirty or fall so to say.

However, in real life ‘daag’ or falling or failures are not celebrated. We don’t want to talk about them as we believe in happy ending. Failure creates anxiety and cognitive dissonance in us and we tend to avoid that. This is natural reaction of ours towards failure. If we continue to avoid failure because of dissonance that it creates, we don’t learn and grow and hence there is a need to learn as to how to deal with failure. There are multiple ways to deal with failure so that we overcome the anxiety or reduce dissonance to a large extent.

1.  What have you lost: Whenever you fail, make a list of items that you are losing or you have lost and try to reduce the value of these items E.g. if you failed in your job, what have you lost:

a.  Consistent income / pay check in your bank account at the end of every month

b.  A routine of going to work and coming back

c.   Respect of your family

And a few other things….

Now think, what worst will happen if you don’t get fixed income for a couple of months. May be you will have to be a bit conscious while spending money, explain situation to your family and get their confidence. These will help you in reducing anxiety and stress to a large extent.

2.  What will you gain: Make a list of items that you will gain if you fail and associate value to those items. E.g.

a)  Opportunity to try new things

b)  Learning

c)   Losing fear of unknown

d)  Courage to deal with tough situation

e)  Family support

Consider these items as more valuable than any thing else as these will pay in long run and make you a much better and stronger person and professional in future. Many people shared with me how strong as a family they became when they went through failure / bad phase in life.

3.  Free yourself from the trap of “what People say”: This is the biggest trap that we all get into as it drives almost all our behaviour. E.g. if you lose your financial stability, how will you maintain your life style and social status and what people will say. What if you need to sit at home for some time, how will I tell them about my failure to people etc etc. Try to condition yourself and not to think about people and certainly, you will find yourself at peace.

4.  Share / Accept your failure publicly: Its best to accept and talk about it publicly with full honesty as it sets you free. E.g. if you have been fired from your job, accept it and talk about it and don’t try to cover it up and build stories. Covering causes more stress as you will have to think of creating a consistent story every time.

Once you accept your failure in front of others, you break most of your barriers and feel very light and more capable of dealing with it.

5.  Use this as an Opportunity: The last but the most important thing is to use your failure as an opportunity and believe that you failed because some thing better has to happen for you. You may find yourself doing some thing very different and in much better way because:

a.   you would have used your enriched learnings

b.  You would have become stronger person and built higher resilience

c.   You have courage to pursue things you are passionate about as you are no more scared of failing

Finally, I would like to say that don’t run after success but run after building capability, success will come automatically…

Poonam Tharad Head and Co-Founder - PalmLeaf. Poonam has over 20 years of experience in the Human Resources domain. She is currently heading the product unit for Mobile Solutions for Engagement and Learning at Mahindra Comviva.

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