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I wonder if you heard Ed Harris say the famous phrase in the movie Apollo 13 – “Failure is not an option.” What did he mean by saying that phrase? Do you think he wanted to convey to his crew how to not fear failure, and find ways to succeed with the mission?
What do you see failure as? Do you know how to not fear failure? Do you feel it is alright to fail? As parents, are you alright if your kids fail in school? Should you be alright if you fail at your job or career?
It’s alright because the more you fail the more you learn, and better you become. Haven’t you heard of the phrase – “Failure is the path to success”? But then, why do you feel sorry or depressed if you fail?
Generally, people think and feel sorry for their failures and make their lives burdensome or painful. They are unable to think either positively or feel contended with their successful activities. They are needlessly ridden with shame and guilt.
The key to convert failure into success lies in your attitude. You need to think positively about your failures by learning how to not fear failure.
Every failure should be analyzed or studied constructively, and the cause of failure should be realized. Once you understand the cause of failure, you can make a decision to correct it, and once it is corrected, then you progress towards success.
To overcome the feeling of failure, you’ve to learn to forget the failure.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” ~ Winston Churchill
What is Failure?
‘Failure’ is a very common word that you come across often in your daily life. But what do you mean by failure?
Failure is a negative state of mind, where you see no good, or no progress, or no learning. It is the opposite of positive thinking and motivation.
Whenever you think about failures, there are two possible contradictory thoughts that come to mind:
- You forget your achievements and always think about the failures.
- You forget your failures and always think about the achievements.
The former reminds you about the human tendency to always think about the failures, which is a negative way of thinking and creates depression within you.
However, the second option reminds you that failure is not an option. You acknowledge and credit yourself for the past successes and build a strong belief that if you’ve done it in the past, you can do it now too. This state of mind reminds you that failure is not failure, and asks you to think positively.
It is a positive way of thinking and helps you to receive positive energy and enthusiasm to think about the future. It reminds you how to not fear failure and instead, understand from the failures and asks you to do something about it.
“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” ~ Henry Ford
Failure is Not an Option
I would like to share a beautiful example along with a video that I had recently seen about why failure is not failure, and how to not fear failure and proceed ahead.
I wonder if you heard about the memorable Olympic Athlete of the 1968 Mexico City Games, and about one of the participants John Stephen Akhwari – the marathon runner from Tanzania.
Half way through the race John fell, badly cutting his knee and dislocating his joint. Most runners at that point of time would have given up. But after a few minutes John picked himself up, strapped up his leg, and kept running.
With just a few spectators left and after an hour had passed with the winner finishing the race, into the stadium came John Akhwari with his bleeding and bandaged leg.
He was wincing in pain with every step he took, yet he pressed on and his courageous heart never stopped running.
After a few minutes of silence, began a slow, steady clapping as he made his painful way around the track till he hobbled across the finish. The crowd cheered and roared as if he was the winner, though he finished last among the 74 competitors!
John learnt how to not fear failure because he knew failure is something temporary, which is not going to define him but his efforts.
He was asked why he endured the pain as there was no chance of his winning, and why he didn’t think about retiring from the race as he had an option of leaving because of his injury.
Akhwari seemed puzzled at the question, and simply said these spirited lines:
“My country did not send me 7,000 miles to start the race. They sent me 7,000 miles to finish the race.” ~ John Stephen Akhwari.
There is no mention of this courageous man in the record books, but that’s not the point. It’s the people who remember John more than the man who won gold, even though he came in last!
They saw him as the man who knew how not to fear failure, as failure is not an option he had because his thoughts were focused on finishing the race.
Spare a few minutes and watch his personal story of courage:
[youtube id=”Hq3rOMnLGBk” width=”620″ height=”360″]
Finish the Race ~ personal story of courage – John Stephen Akhwari You Tube video
How to Not Fear Failure to be Successful?
Failures help you sharpen your skills better than success, because when you fail and take time to learn from your failures, you find out what you need to improve.
Just as the saying goes, the largest room in the world is the room for improvement.
“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead-end street.” ~ William A. Ward.
Successful people don’t avoid failures, they learn to handle it successfully and learn from it. Don’t spend much time worrying about failure, as you increase your chances of failing.
Take the example of Abraham Lincoln who said:
“Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”
He was born into poverty, and knew defeat. The only education that he received was self-acquired, and he failed in business and was defeated many times for public office.
However, each failure taught him to learn from his mistakes, and rather than being a failure at success, he experienced successful failures. These failed experiences didn’t stop him; they taught him.
Failures are Stepping Stones
To make you life joyful and successful, you need to transform your failures into achievements. You can learn how to not fear failure by trying out the following:
1- Analyze the Failures
If you make a proper analysis, you will be able to understand that every failure is a stepping stone towards success.
Every failure reminds you that to fail does not really mean a failure, or that you are a failure, or that you have failed. Failure is not failure in the real sense.
Everyone faces failure, but you need to remember that every person reaches success after a number of failed attempts only.
The failure tells you that you have tried your level best to achieve a goal, and that effort itself is a positive step, a stepping stone to success.
2- Forget the Failures
Once you have analyzed the failures, you should try to forget them. You need to remember that no man is perfect, and everyone is on the road towards perfection.
Thus, on this road to perfection, you will have to face failures, which is natural. You should have a mind to learn from these failures, and such an attitude will lead you to success.
3- Overcome the Failures
If you try constantly, you will realize that failure is not failure for you. You must have heard about Sir Thomas Alva Edison, who invented the electric bulb.
Before the invention of the electric bulb, he met failures nearly 200 times, but he never gave up. He considered the failures as the stepping-stones to success, and never considered the failures as a disgrace in his life.
You should develop such an attitude in your life too and understand that failure is only a temporary set-back. Knowing how to not fear failure helps you to rise and move ahead in life.
4- Failure is Not Final
You might have failed in the past, or you might be facing failures in your present life, but it is not a reason to say or think that you will face failures in your future. Remember, failure is not final in itself.
Such a wrong or pessimistic way of thinking will not take you to success. Instead, you must be optimistic in your thoughts, and have confidence in your abilities and capabilities. You need to cultivate self-knowledge within you.
You do not fail, until your inner self gives up the action or the effort to attain goals. So, remember that failure is not failure, but the greatest failure in your life is to stop trying again.
5- Trust in God
You should accept failure as an opportunity to improve your own effort, and remember that it’s not a problem that cannot be solved.
To solve problems and to find the solution, we need God’s help. It makes no sense in complaining or crying over the failures. Instead, pray to God and seek His guidance.
Remember that prayer inspires us to have faith and perseverance.
6- Get Motivated
Whenever you face failures, or fear failures, or get worried about failures, try to recollect the stories of great men who overcame failures with positive thinking. Remember them again and again, and get inspired and motivated from them.
Try to receive energy from the lives of such people who have overcome their failures, and at the same time look around at other people. Observe how the people in your neighborhood have learnt how to not fear failure by their own constant efforts.
Think about the blind woman in your neighborhood who works as a receptionist at an office, or about the handicapped man who goes to office every morning and does his job successfully.
Have you read the story of Sir John Milton who wrote “The Paradise Lost”? He was blind when he had written this world classic.
Similarly, think about the life of Helen Keller. She was blind, deaf, and dumb from her childhood. But, she did not want to accept defeat in her life. With her determination and will-power, she conquered the world of handicapped people.
Such people, whether they were successful or not, had kept the thought of failure away from their minds to find success in life. They knew that failure is not an option they had to meet their goals.
For them, failure was a challenge, an experience that had taught them a lot. Despite of all the falls and failures, they rose high in their lives because they learnt how to not fear failure.
“It is not whether you get knocked down; it is whether you get up again.” ~ Vinci Lombardi
I read somewhere that if you are not failing; you are not succeeding, which is so true! Failure IS the main ingredient in the recipe for success; its 10 parts education, 20 parts effort, and 70 parts of failure. And remember the Japanese proverb – “Fall seven times, stand up eight.”
So, don’t lower your eye, cover your mouth, hang your head in shame, or feel ashamed of facing or admitting your failures.
Remember, when your attitude is right, failures help and improve you in the real sense. They give you a chance to see where you fall short, to learn more about yourself, to change, and show how you can grow to your greatest potential.
Over to you–
Do you believe that failure is not failure? Do you also believe that failure is not an option in your life? Have you experienced failure in your life and what did you do to overcome it? Did your success teach you how to not fear failure? Share your views in the comments below.
Photo Credit: LifeSpurecharger