Why do we all beat ourselves up over our mistakes and defeats? Why don’t we realize that they are just stepping-stones to success? I believe part of it is learned in school. We learn early that there are right answers and wrong answers. But nobody bothers to teach us how to use critical thinking and to learn from our mistakes.
Then often in our jobs, we learn that “bad ideas,” are not tolerated. We must be researched and thorough, not just blurt ideas willy-nilly. Often we are berated for our bad decisions and failed projects. This reinforces the idea that failure is a bad thing, and we never learn to look for the positives within it.
Luckily, we are always evolving and learning. Many people, much smarter than I, have recognized that failure is an integral part of success. Just look at some of these great quotes to see what I’m talking about:
We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do, by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery. – – Samuel Smiles
Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. – – Winston Churchill
Failures are like skinned knees, painful but superficial. – – H. Ross Perot
History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats. – – B.C. Forbes
Fall seven times, stand up eight. – – Japanese Proverb
So the next time you hit a bump in the road, or even if the road abruptly ends, stop, look around to get your bearings, then take another direction. Start to notice the sign posts telling you that you’re headed in the right direction. Make a list of the steps you need to take to get to where you’re going. When you reach one of your targets – celebrate.
If you want to be a more positive person, pat yourself on the back each time you uplift someone else, keep a negative criticism to yourself or ignore gossip. If you are trying to be healthier, credit yourself for each extra set of repetitions you perform. Reward yourself for every 10 pounds of weight you lose. Smile every time you run after your children without huffing and puffing.
Look back at your life and reevaluate how far you’ve come. Acknowledge the lessons you’ve learned, the good you’ve done, the gifts you’ve given. Glory in the time you’ve spent overcoming hurdles from your past. Revel in all the risks you’ve taken, the new skills you’ve learned and the wisdom you’ve gained. Recognize that even if you’re not exactly where you want to be yet, you’re likely very close.
Find at least one other person to share your triumphs and joys with. Get together your own cheering section to applaud your perseverance and determination. (Even if they’re only in your own head!) Cherish each book read, talent discovered, project completed and every step forward.
Learn to put as much emphasis on each thing you do right as you now put on the things you do wrong. Do a mental review each night of what you did well. “Today I held my temper, did my spouse’s chores, and sent those emails I’ve been putting off,” etc. Your self-esteem will begin to rise and you’ll find yourself seeing the positive outcome of every setback. Soon you won’t even notice your so-called failures, only the positive results of the hard work you’ve done and all you’ve accomplished.