Notes to Self

Thoughts on psychology, spirituality and soft skill development for personal improvement


Overcoming Failure

"A good many failures are, ofcourse, nothing but mistakes, the result of greed, stupidity, thoughtless bandwagon-climbing, or incompetance whether in design or execution. Yet, if something fails despite being carefully planned, carefully designed, and conscientiously executed, that failure often bespeaks underlying change and, with it, opportunity."
- Peter Drucker

One aspect of confidence is the knowledge that you have the skillset to succeed at something. As Peter Drucker emphasizes, failures are necessary to identify skills you lack, learning which can contribute to your self-confidence. While increased confidence reduces fears of failure, some other things to keep in mind:

  1. Be realistic: Expect to face failure. There is no one in this world who hasn't failed at something at some point in life. Successful people haven't achieved their success because they have learnt to avoid failures; rather they have learnt how to cope with the defeats they face. And, like Marissa Ann Mayer said, learn when to quit.

  2. Don't 'lash' yourself: Many have a tendency to look down hard on themselves when they fail. Emotionally berating and putting oneself down does not help and this self-hatred makes things worse.

  3. Don't take failure personally: Related to tip 2, don't over-generalize your failures and conclude that there's something wrong with you or you are less competent than others. Some examples of over-generalizations: Someone turning you down for a date doesn't mean you are ugly or lack social skills. You not getting the job you want doesn't mean that you are incompetent. Failing a test doesn't mean you are stupid.

  4. Don't analyze when you are down: We are more likely to misinterpret and make erroneous conclusions when we are mentally and emotionally exhausted. And it's natural to feel sad, anxious, irritated, angry etc. when we fail at something. Think of it as emotional exhaustion - similar to the physical exhaustion one feels after a work out. Just as you need to rest your body after a physical activity, you need to rest and rejuvenate your mind too.

  5. Talk about your feelings: Express your feelings out loud to a trusted friend or family member rather than brooding on them alone. Tell them to be supportive, humorous and give you a good time first, and advices later.

Related » Make your Own Luck
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