Failure = Learning and Learning = Growth

Failure has such a negative stigma attached to it, but why? In life, we all fail a time or two. Some more often than others. It’s an inevitable experience for everyone and yet, it’s something that fosters such a great deal of shame within us when it happens.

Failure can come in so many different forms. Losing a job or not getting the job in the first place. Break ups or rejections. Not reaching goals or not making the ‘right’ goal in the first place. Failures can include ‘failing’ a test, or ‘failing’ an important project in school. Maybe you failed on your annual assessment or you didn’t pass the requirement for a promotion.

When experiencing failure some may ask how they should view the failure. In some cases many may wonder how they can view the failure positively and perhaps make peace with failure.

Regardless of the failure in question, it happens to all of us and in order to carry forward strong, we must look at failure in a different way then a complete and utter nightmare and as if YOU are a failure in life. Learning how to cope with failure is a growth process everyone should spend more time on, as failure leads to success when it’s not perceived as negative.

There are two ways of looking at failure. First, you can say, “Ive failed and now my life is over,” or you can say, “Ive failed and now I need to assess what occurred and how I am going to move forward.”

According to Carol Dweck, a researcher at Stanford University, there are two types of mindsets; the fixed mindset and the growth mindset.

According to Dweck, when a person has a fixed mindset they believe their basic abilities, intelligence, and talents are fixed and therefore cannot change.

Those with a growth mindset often look inward and value the potential for growth and seek out ways to do so. They believe with time and experience they can get better at things they may struggle with.

When a person fails, it is sometimes very hard to see things constructively rather than destructively. It’s difficult to ask whether there was anything we could have done differently without shame as oppose to looking inward with blame. If you failed the test, is it because you aren’t smart enough or is it because you didn’t study? If you did’t get the job promotion is it because you aren’t worthy of it or is it because the other guy just had a little bit more experience than you?

By shifting your mindset you can make a substantial difference in the way you perceive failure. This doesn’t mean you won’t have a moment of feeling bad or feeling sorry for yourself, but that feeling won’t last long as you will be too busy trying to figure out what you need to do next in order to do better next time.

Failure = learning and learning = growth.

Sometimes we fear failure mostly because we are afraid of what people might think. Maybe we were told not to try something because it wouldn’t work out and now we are afraid that those people will say, “I told you so.”

It is so important to ignore the naysayers. Chances are really good they spend more time being stuck in their own fears and criticizing others than they do on their own self growth. If they aren’t supportive and understanding of your effort; their opinion doesn’t matter.

So many people fear failure so much it hinders their day to day decisions. When you fear failure so much you make decision based on avoidance. It’s an unfortunate reality for some and in order to get past this we have to look at failure differently.

Failure can build resilience, knowledge create lessons to ad to your lesson bank. If you don’t have a lesson bank, I strongly recommend you create one as part of your journaling practice and if you aren’t journalling; you should start.

Failure can help us value our successes and failure can often change the trajectory of our life in a way that turns out better than it would have, had we not failed. Maybe the failure was meant to serve us and maybe you can go as far as to say that the Universe had your back and orchestrated your failure in order to lead you in the direction that is more ideal.

Maybe if you would have received that dream job you never would have moved to the city where you met the love of your life. Maybe if you wouldn’t have failed that test, you never would have had the opportunity to re-take it in the same class as a person who became your best friend. Maybe if you hadn’t missed that very important meeting because you were running late you would have been involved in that multiple fatal car accident on your direct route to work.

I heard a quote a while back that read as follows:

“Life isn’t happening to you, it’s happening for you” — unknown

I am not sure who originally said it first but this quote was a game changer as I began to look at every experience so differently. This process isn’t always easy and it involves a level head, maturity, and a great deal of insight but when you can start shifting your mind to believe this; its powerful.

The moral of the story is; failure is not a bad thing and once you realize this your life will change and grow in ways you didn’t know were possible.

The next time you fail at something, ask yourself this; what was this supposed to teach me? What do I need to do to move forward and what can I learn that will help me do better next time?

“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

What is one thing you looked at as a failure? Could you have perceived it differently? Could you have done anything differently? How would you look at it now?




For information on coaching services or to guest blog on my page, please feel free to contact me 🙂

Building a Lesson Bank

Ever since February 20, 2016, the day that forever changed my life, I have made an effort to document almost every experience I have had in which I learn something. I don’t share all of the documentations and the majority of them are written privately in my personal journals, but I always take a moment to deconstruct experiences in my life that I would consider life lessons.

So what do I call this practice of documentation you ask? I call it my lesson bank. It’s pretty simple. I have created a literary bank which contains stories, experiences, events (both personal and non-personal), mistakes, triumphs, hardships and so on, where I keep track of things I have learned. For anyone who uses journalling as a medium for stress relief, I am betting you can understand what I am referring to.

I ask myself these questions:

  1. What was the situation?

  2. How did I respond?

  3. What was the result?

  4. What could I have done differently given the opportunity?

  5. What did I learn?

  6. What is one positive thing in my life that happened that would not have happened had this situation not occurred?

Here is an example of one of my lessons.

When my fiancé was killed suddenly in an avalanche, at the age of thirty years old, I was left with a mountain of debt. I couldn’t afford my mortgage, our debt repayment plan was impossible, and the income I received from him every month disappeared instantly. We didn’t have any of our life insurance in order and because we weren’t married and hadn’t been living together for three years (according to our provincial law) I wasnt entitled to his estate.

I went from a blushing bride to be to a heartbroken widow with no money. All of my fiancés money went to his Mother who was likely the last person he would have wanted it to go; but I digress.

I was shattered, angry, frustrated and defeated and spent many months analyzing the situation negatively rather than accepting that “it was what it was” and there was nothing my anger could do to change it.

One year later I had quit my job as a police officer and moved back to my home town where I moved into my parents basement. I had been recently enrolled in University for my B.A in psychology and I could no longer afford the lifestyle I was living with Nick in the big city. I packed up what little I had and went home.

A few short months after that I met a man who is now the love of my life. He has two beautiful daughters and together we had a son.

When I look back at the amount of time I spent consuming alcohol to mask my anger and frustration, and the little it did for my recovery, I am amazed I came out of it alive. On top of the death of my fiance I was having to live with the betrayal of his Mother.

I often found myself going back to this and feeling so hurt. It would change my mood in an instant and I would think about all the ways Nick’s death may have been a bit easier had I not been financially strained and dependent on my parents. It made me so angry.

It didn’t take long before I changed the way I looked at my situation. As a result of reading a lot of self help books and attending weekly therapy I learned to change the question from “what would have been easier had I received the money”, to, “what would I have missed out on had I received that money”.

Let me be clear, my fiancés life insurance and estate would have afforded me the ability to live quite comfortably for a very long time. I would have continued on the path of repaying our debt and I would have been able to pay for all of my education just as we had planned.

However, had I receieved that money I would have traveled solo, spent many months away from my family, and I never would have met the man I am with now. Had I never met him, I never would have become a step Mom and I never would have gave birth to my beautiful little boy who we named after my late fiancé.

You see life is a funny thing. It’s not always fair and sometimes nothing makes sense in the moment. The process of seeing the silver lining is not easy and it doesn’t always work for everyone, and in some circumstances; there just isn’t one. However, if you can shape your story in a way that outlines the blessings instead of the shortcomings it makes things slightly more bearable.

Like I said, sometimes you can’t find a silver lining and that is ok but if you can; embrace it.

Sometimes what you are going through can’t possibly be worse but if it can; embrace it.

Sometimes nothing good can come from a particular situation. That is just a matter of fact. However if something has, try to embrace it. Life can be tragic and we need to garner all the blessings we can as fuel to help us during those times.

By having a lesson bank I am able to physically see and read the meaningful experiences I have had, the hardships I have overcome and the lessons I have learned. By having a lesson bank I am able to turn to it for guidance and a gentle reminder that this too shall pass. It’s a reminder that if I conscioulsy work on my mindset and my perception of what is happening; I may be able to get through it with a little bit more ease.

“Never regret a day in your life: good days give happiness, bad days give experience, worst days give lessons, and best days give memories” – unknown

What are some lessons you would place in your lesson bank if you had one?




For information on coaching services or to guest blog on my page, please feel free to contact me 🙂