When you fail, you have a choice – focus on facts or feelings. If you emphasize your feelings after an instance of failure, you’ll succumb to the victim mindset.
The Victim Mindset
If you are a “victim” of failure, your focus becomes your misfortune. You’ll concentrate on how it feels to have failed (lousy). This is a bad idea for two reasons.
1. You might not try again. Feeling bad and dealing with negative consequences are not the outcomes anyone hopes for when trying something new. Dwelling on these will associate them with your decision to start, and make you less likely to try again.
2. This mindset puts all of the emphasis on the end result, and none on the journey. The journey is never worthless, and is often the greatest part of any project. In a journey that ends in success or failure, you will learn much.
Don’t accept the victim title if you fail. Victims are passive and helpless, and you are neither of those! Failure feels worse than it actually is, which is essential knowledge for handling failure correctly.
The Smart Way To Handle Failure
The best way to handle failure is in the form of a fill-in-the-blank sentence. This sentence puts the emphasis on the facts, and puts your mind in problem-solving mode.
NEXT TIME, I CAN——————— TO AVOID FAILURE
The sentence starts off by saying “next time,” which implies that you’re going to give it another shot! And why wouldn’t you try again? Weren’t you aiming for success all along? How many dart players quit after they throw the first dart and it isn’t a bulls-eye? None. They adjust and try again, and you should too.
The first important thing you can do when you fail is find out why you failed. The unknown blank in the sentence focuses your mind on finding answers; instead of sulking, now you’re problem-solving. When you find out why you failed this time, you can likely prevent it from happening next time.
But what about the emotions of failure?
It’s not always easy or possible to brush those aside. Maybe you feel sad, defeated, and even angry.
The smart way to deal with negative emotions from failure is to transform them into a nothing-to-lose determination. If you already feel defeated, then the bar is low and you can give your next attempt everything you have, without fear. If you feel angry, that’s a great segue into determination and focused intensity.