We are not biologically bound to repeat our failures but predisposed to learn from them.
Taking advantage of it or not, experience has proven that failure is just part of the life process.
Failure is supposed to be an open door. Failure is needed. It is wise. And it teaches us everything we need to do it again and do it better. There is no learning process without failure. Entrepreneurs even say there is no success without it. All true. All real. Fine. But after all, failure is so painful. Sometimes it tastes like an unexpected punch in the stomach. Sometimes like a house of cards that crumbles. Always the same bitter. Always the same feeling afterward.
In his book The Winner Effect: The Neuroscience of Success and Failure, Ian H. Robertson explains how success changes the chemistry of the brain, making you more focused, smarter, more confident, and more aggressive. This way, the more you win, the more you will go on to win. But following the same pattern when we fail once, we’re more likely to fail again and sometimes more catastrophically, so we are thrown off by mistakes instead of learning from them.
Is it not a failure then that good after all?
According to different scientific studies, failure can have a clear negative impact on our brain. The good news is that all those studies have just by extrapolating monkeys’ brain analysis to human ones. Besides, scientists at Oxford University have recently discovered that human brains have a “bad decision detector.” Something like a small ball of neural tissue named the lateral frontal pole that is vital for pondering the ‘what ifs’ of life, and stopping humans from making bad decisions. Despite being one of our closest relatives, this lateral frontal pole prefrontal cortex is surprisingly missing in the macaques. So there is clear hope! We are not biologically bound to repeat our failures but predispose to learn from them!
And now let’s move forward and come back to something less scientific and more common sense like. Taking advantage of it or not, experience has proven that failure is just part of the life process. So we need to accept it and make the best of it on the bases of three very intelligent premises:
- Failure is sooner or later unavoidable.
- Failure does have a negative impact on our brain provoking an explicit rejection of it and higher levels of anxiety, demotivation, and lack of confidence. We know that failure can be positive. We accept it. We believe it. But after all, we all would like to avoid it and directly succeed. That is natural. And actually, it makes lots of sense. Why do we have to go through the whole process of failing, learning and trying again? Learning from someone else’s brain is a smart proverbial expression!
- Human beings are more than a mix of chemical brain reactions. Learning from failure is, after all, a personal choice and attitude and thankfully, our brains are prepared for it.
So how can we stand failure up and bring it to the bright side of life ensuring a positive learning experience? Two primary phases of the process and seven powerful steps is everything we need to succeed.
Phase I: Acknowledge and understand failure.
1. Acknowledge that you have failed and your role on this failure
Basic. Hurtful. It is entirely human to look for alternative realities where the universe plot against our success despite we have worked hard, accurate and rightfully. Things happen to us. Not a good start precisely. We can not improve what we do not acknowledge that it is on our hands.
2. Analyze the objective reasons that make you fail
To continue the healing process, it is fundamental to honestly dig into the failure and clearly identify the causes for it. We could have always been more careful, more daring, better prepared or better connected. Maybe it was not the right process. Perhaps it was not the right time. Transform your ‘maybes’ into explicit judgments. Become aware.
3. Acknowledge who you are and what do you want out of life
Should I care that much? Should I try again? How is this failure related to my mission in life? How does this failure impact the materialization of my priorities? Which is my position within this failure? Who I am and how do I want this failure to affect my life?
4. Acknowledge what you have achieved so far
You are good. You are capable. You have just discovered one new way that won’t work. But you have achieved so well so far. Make a list of all your considered successes. Keep positive. Accept that being good does not mean to be perfect. Keep humble. See life in perspective. Attach to your strengths.
5. Acknowledge the fears and obstacles that you have overcome
Getting to the point you are now, experiencing this pain of failure, is the proof you have defeated the so-called ‘fear of failure.’ You have given a step forward and break with the unconscious focus of avoiding future failing and securing future success. You have taken action. You have chosen. The second time will be easier, and the final goals are much closer now.
6. Learn the lesson and acknowledge that now you are better prepared than before
Do what you have to do and avoid what you need to avoid. Change whatever needs to be changed. The only important thing is to ensure that the pain gets transformed into a positive lesson. It can just make you wiser or weaker. Choose wiser.
7. Acknowledge that no failure will finish you.
An inverse paranoid is someone who believes that the world is out to do them good. It is someone who focuses on the beauty of the moon instead of in the dangers of the darkness. According to the neuroscientist, Sara Bengtsson, the simple act of priming with positive worlds/ attitudes before undertaken the foreseen action leads to better results. Prime your mind to affect not just your internal reality but your external too. Now that you have learned from your own mistakes keep strong and determine. Improve the strategy. Advance the method.
“I have failed over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed.”(Michael Jordan)
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