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There's a Fortune in Failure

By Gary Bradt, PhD February 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

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It took Thomas Edison more than 1,000 tries to get the lightbulb just right. Yet, how many people give up if they don’t nail something perfectly the first time? The best baseball hitters in the game fail approximately two out of every three times they step up to the plate. Still, how many won’t step up and try something new unless success can be ensured first? The problem is how you think about yourself in relation to failure and its consequences. This article will challenge you to change the way you think about failure, and, in the process, change the way you think about yourself.

Failure equals success
      Failure can be the fast track to success if you recognize and use it the right way. It’s all in how you choose to size it up. Following are five ways to think about failure, and how to manage it. Embracing these concepts will help ensure long-term success in all of your endeavors, both in business and in life.

      1. Define failure as learning. When a toddler falls down, do we say, “Man, he really messed up!” or, more likely, “Wonderful, he’s learning to walk!” However, when you fall down—blow the sales pitch, get passed over for the promotion, lose your job—often you feel as though you’ve failed. Worse yet, you may define yourself as a failure. It is better to view failure as a temporary and necessary step on the way to where you want to be. Just like falling down is a predictable and inevitable process for a toddler learning to walk, so, too, are the occasional failures that occur along the way to success in whatever you attempt. In fact, it’s hard to improve if you don’t fail, because lack of success delineates clearly where opportunities for improvement lie. So, when you do fall down, don’t label yourself a failure. Instead, recover quickly from temporary disappointments by asking “What can I learn from this? What worked and what didn’t? How can I do it better next time?” Then, follow the toddler’s example: Get up with a smile on your face and try again, knowing you are better for the experience.

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