Succeeding by Failing: Why Failure is Good for You



By Abdulkabir Olatunji

One of the greatest fears that inhibits a lot of people from fulfilling their potential is failure. It is an underwhelming or less than desirable outcome to an endeavour. The implication of this is that failure can be relative — what Mr. A considers to be failure might be considered by Mrs. B to be success, it seems paradoxical but in reality, it is not. Let’s use the marathon as an example — its a competitive long distance race with many observers keen on knowing who the winner will be. A 2nd-placed athlete might feel disappointed he didn’t win it. However, for the last person that finished the race, getting to the finishing line might be deemed the greatest athletic achievement in their life — a great success.

This is not an attempt to suggest that true failure doesn’t exist, it does. What is important to note and learn from failure is that it has elements of success in it. The person that failed at mathematics for example has probably shown at minimum interest in trying to learn. It might be that they are being taught with the wrong techniques or they have aptitude for other things say sports or art. If we take their willingness to learn and add the other elements of success to it, they are likely to have improved results that are a form of progress which is an essential part of success.

As individuals, we should take time to analyse our failures and pick the learning points required to improve to achieve the kind of success we want — try a new teacher, learning style, study partners or environment and measure progress, as a marketer, identify which areas, demographic or type of sales pitch that works better than others, refine and improve on it.

As a parent, understand your children, identify the positive traits they have that can be built on to lead them towards positivity. Don’t tag a child or ward as a failure — try to find out what makes them tick and leverage on it.

As a leader, don’t assume your followers cannot help you fulfill your vision, try to communicate it better and help them identify the mutual benefits that you and them can benefit from if they cooperate and buy into your vision.

Ultimately, failure is not terminal by itself if you understand the fact that it usually contains the seed that can germinate and grow into success only if you nurture it. So, while you should never set-out to fail in any activity, you should understand that it is part of a process and if you learn and persevere, it is likely to lead you to great success.