How to turn a failure into a success

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” J.K. Rowling

That quote from J.K Rowling almost makes me want to go out and fail! But let’s be honest, failing doesn’t feel good. Failure comes along with all kinds of hard emotions like disappointment, sadness, grief — all totally valid emotions, but not fun stuff. I’m not here to tell you to brush off those feelings and jump right back in the saddle as if nothing happened. Let yourself wallow after a failure if that’s what you need. BUT don’t let past failures stop you — whether it’s reaching for the same goal or aiming for a new one. Here are some questions to ask yourself to mine your failure for some helpful takeaways:

  1. What did you learn?
    Maybe you learned something about your industry, yourself, or built a skill you didn’t have before. Try to step back from the experience and look at where you were when you started and where any change or growth happened.

  2. What connections did you make?
    Did anyone significant come into your life during this time? A project may fail and then out of it will come a lifelong relationship with someone new, so in the end you may not even consider this a failing moment in your life after all.

  3. How will you approach your next project or goal differently?
    Hopefully a failure (or many failures) won’t stop you from reaching for your goals. To stick with my J.K. Rowling theme, put yourself in her shoes for a moment after receiving 12 rejections for the first Harry Potter book. What we don’t see right away from her success is how those rejections shaped the Harry Potter story we know today. Did she re-write any of the story or her pitch after each rejection? Do we see this theme or lesson around failure in the next Harry Potter books?

  4. What comes next?
    Think of failure as part of your story and not the end of your story. Maybe this failure has left a space for something new and exciting! You may not be ready to embrace your failure and if you keep looking forward, that’s the direction you’ll go in.

CareerChantel Guertin