There is no more difficult situation in your leadership and personal development journey than the moment you must face a personal mistake that has derailed your climb to the top. Failure becomes a defining moment — do you walk away from the issue, persevere, or look for a different path that may eventually lead you to the same goal? A genuine definition of success is intimately interwoven with our response to these situations.
Failing Doesn’t Always Mean FAILURE
Successful people universally look back upon their perceived failures as beneficial events. The learning process can be treacherous, painful, and seemingly impossible at times, but sticking to your goals through that process becomes the marker of the ultimately successful. People who succeed in business, personal relationships, and other areas of life are those who take the lessons of their failures and turn them into a positive. Can you really call it a failure if you have genuinely learned something from the experience? Or is it really just another step on the path that leads to your desired goal?
Rock bottom makes for a pretty solid foundation, but you can’t build much down there.
Most businesses will struggle and falter at some point. Most relationships will decay, dissolve, or break apart. It is impossible to go through life without experiencing a fall, a disappointment, or an unexpected result. And when you hit the proverbial bottom of the barrel there are only two choices — to stay at the bottom or to climb out again.
It is often tempting, especially in the initial hours and days, to just wallow at the bottom, to want to give up and just stay there. Climbing is hard, and the fall was painful. But success doesn’t come from the bottom. You have to find the will and courage to begin that climb again.
Successful people are the climbers that look ahead and remember what caused their fall in the first place. If you don’t learn, you will just end up on the bottom again.
Forgive Yourself, but Don’t Forget!
Always remember how it felt, but don’t allow yourself to wallow in self-recrimination — it isn’t productive. Failure never feels good, but that doesn’t mean it can’t do you good. Forgive yourself, and others, who may have brought you down, but always keep in mind how it happened. If one of your business partners was unable to fulfill their function, perhaps it is time to find a new partner or find a new responsibility for the existing partner that is better aligned to their talents and abilities. If you were so overwhelmed that you dropped the ball, perhaps learning to delegate and prioritize more efficiently is the key.
Real success is defined by our reactions to failure, both our own and the perceived failures of others. Those who stand up, brush themselves off, and keep climbing while maintaining the lessons of their past mistakes firmly in mind, will eventually become successful leaders in their businesses and personal lives.
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