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How Failure Helps You To Succeed


by Mustakim

Role of Failure in Learning

Failure is something that is often frowned upon; at its most basic definition, it is a “lack of success” but in reality it is not as simple as it seems. Everyone will fail at some point in their lives and the nature of their failure may vary from a series of back-to-back failures to a single large failure. But the single most important part of failure is to learn and grow from it and use them as valuable lessons to become more successful overall.

A perfect example of this is Thomas Edison, who was asked by a reporter, “How did it feel to fail 10,00 times?”
He simply replied, “Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results! I know several thousand things that won’t work.”
It is always important to remember that “failing”, no matter how many times it happens, doesn’t mean that your progress has hit the end of the road. Rather, it simply signifies that you have had to make a turn, which will only lead you closer to success.

A common lesson which we learn from failure is that it allows us to determine our weaknesses. More often than not, it is often very difficult to identify our own weaknesses for a variety of reasons. Some people are simply blind to their own weaknesses, whereas others struggle to realise it. Usually the discovery of your weaknesses is made when you try something for the first time and it does not quite go to your plan.

Luckily, weaknesses often accompany, and can be used to identify, a corresponding strength. Whenever we have some sort of area that we lack in, we often accommodate with the strengths that we have. A personal example would be that I am more than confident in being able to speak publicly, whereas, from a young age, I discovered that any form of writing, could prove to be quite challenging! But, like all weaknesses, once you have recognised any areas of improvement, it automatically becomes easier to address them, allowing you to learn and grow past it. Various ways of improving include seeking extra help in the form of classes, study sessions or simply making more time for the skill by practising it more until it becomes a strength. Another excellent path to improvement is to set a main goal, measure your progress and assess how far you have come.

Importance of failure in growth

For many people, failure is one of the most painful experiences, not only due to the actual failure itself but also the consequences of it and the genuine emotional distress which it can cause. What’s important to know is that although everyone experiences “failure”, it is only ever real and lasting when we allow ourselves to be knocked down by these setbacks.

Unfortunately, a lot of people can fall into the trap of dwelling on their past failures and mistakes. It is completely natural to always think back to our previous errors and defeats. but it is essential that we accept and learn the lessons which we experienced to keep forging our path forward. However, like all things: it is easier said than done.

The very fear of failing can often be cripping, which can cause us to shy away from challenging tasks and reduce motivation, leading to a lack of desire to achieve. I myself have felt like this when I was 14 years old and just starting to study for my GCSEs. I would find myself not wanting to answer questions in class that I didn’t know the answer to, purely because I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of the class for not knowing the answer. Looking back almost a decade later, it seems like such a silly reason to be scared of failure, but I also remember how real that fear was. However, I was also very fortunate to have teachers who helped me change my mindset, allowing me to gain the confidence needed to make mistakes, and fail, in order to learn and move forward.

This particular mindset has the official term of “growth mindset” and is one that I believe everyone should adapt to help them to learn, develop and achieve. Unlike a “fixed mindset” which sees success coming from 80% talent and 20% effort, the growth mindset is the opposite. This mindset involves the person being able to believe that their abilities and skills can be developed through their dedication and hard work. Having this belief involves not shying away from challenges, the prospect of failure and being able to say, “So what if I fail the first time?” as a means of learning and developing to actualise one’s success, regardless of how many times you feel knocked down.

It is always important to remember the most painful and memorable failures as a driving force, to allow growth. For me, that is none other than my very first job interview in my life, at Test Teach. I had just finished my A-levels and was searching for a job during the summer before going to university.

Having successfully got an interview at Test Teach, I was quite simply shocked at how I was more nervous for this interview compared to any of my medical school interviews, especially since I had to demonstrate myself in the working environment. Unfortunately, due to how shaken and strained I felt by the pressure, I was unable to give my 100% at the interview and did not get the job. Thankfully, I did not let this put me down, and after working a variety of different jobs that involved being in a variety of situations, I was able to build up my self-confidence and ability to work under pressure- and I was able to, thankfully, join the team at Test Teach.

Failure is inevitable but as Albert Einstein famously said, “A person who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new”. The sooner one can accept that failure is just a part of life, the sooner they can move forward to achieving the successes we desire.