“We Need to Fail More”

I came up with the idea for RealWorld University because I realized that given all the things that college taught me, there was a whole lot more that college didn’t teach me. And learning how to deal with failure is definitely near the top of the list.

If you haven’t noticed by now, I’ve never referenced a college text book for any of the strategies and ideas that I’ve shared with you. Also, I’ve never referenced a professor either. Now that’s not to say that I won’t use a textbook or a professor as a reference, but don’t hold your breath. If they’re out there, I’ll find them.

Why is “learning to deal with failure” such a critical topic? Well let me ask you this, have you ever failed at anything before? Or better yet, will you ever fail at anything? It’s safe to assume that you probably answered “yes” to both questions. So the real question is not whether you “will” fail, but rather “how” will you handle it when you do?

This is a subject that really concerns me, because I’ve seen students totally beat themselves up after they’ve been knocked down by the challenges of college. Failing a test, repeating a course, losing a scholarship, not winning a scholarship, denied admission to medical school or law school, low GRE scores, or anything else associated with pain, has literally brought tears to their eyes. I’m not saying that these issues aren’t legitimate concerns, but they’re also not the end of the world either. Some of the challenges I’ve faced in college were low SAT scores, no money, the only African American in 99% of my classes, no money, poor communication skills, no money, mother living in the ghetto, racist professors, and list goes on. Oh, did I mention I had no money?

Anyway, allow me to share an excerpt from David Sandler’s book, “You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar.” (I know that’s a funny title, but it’s a great book). Sandler is considered a world professional in selling. Through his organization, the Sandler Sales Institute, Sandler has taught over a quarter of a million sales professionals how to sell, raise their self esteem and handle rejection. He offers the following insight on failure: “Failure is universal. It’s part of the human experience. It’s important to learn how to fail, because the only way to achieve anything is to risk failure.”

Why is it so difficult to risk failing? I think it’s because we don’t understand failure, and we don’t see that failure includes an upside. With all of our success programming and conditioning, it would be difficult to suddenly begin saying, “I just can’t wait to fail again.” However, it’s normal to fail. It’s healthy to fail. And the most successful people we know would never allow failure to stand in their path to success. Like anything else, we can learn to fail. We can learn to accept failure so that risking failure doesn’t have to be so difficult. Here are SSI’s Five Steps to Failure, a process that offers the upside to failing:

1. Disbelief

When you fail, understand that disbelief is the first hurdle to cross. Don’t deny your failure, just accept it! Shake your head and believe it happened.

2. Fear

Welcome the fear. Anticipate it like an old friend. And let fear become the survival mechanism that gets you motivated all over again.

3. Anger

Accept the anger. Get mad! But then cool down.

4. Acceptance

Realize that all you did was fail. It’s normal. It happens to everyone. It’s not the end of the world. Accept responsibility for whatever happened, and get ready to move on.

5. Despair

It’s normal to feel a little depressed. That’s good! That means the failure process has been completed. Try to figure out the lessons that you can learn from your failure.

Sandler says, “When you fail, you can begin to understand yourself better. That helps you to become more objective. This is a good time to evaluate your priorities. And perhaps you’ll come away from it with a new attitude. The best thing about failure is that it strengthens your ‘gut’ system. At SSI, we frequently say, ‘No guts, no gain.’ When you fail, you’ve got two choices to make: you can either suck it up or suck on your thumb. Perhaps you can fail often enough, and quickly enough, that your gut system will actually look forward to failure. Just remember, the most successful people are people who have learned how to fail!”

I believe Sandler has hit the nail on the head. Success is never permanent, but neither is failure. Someone once told me that the key to success is learning not to let success go to your head, and not to let failure go to your heart. As long as you’re breathing, I can guarantee you that you will stumble. Matter of fact, the only way you can prevent failure is to not try anything. But if you don’t try anything, that also means you won’t ever achieve anything. I know this may sound weird, but if you want to succeed more, you’re going to have to fail more.

Keep visiting RealWorld University, and we will show you how to bounce back from adversity. We will continue to bring you much more information on this topic and others in the near future. Remember, the key to wisdom is knowing “where” to look for the answers. Come see us again, and click here to tell a friend about us. Live purposefully, God bless!

Live purposefully, God bless!

  • Share/Save/Bookmark