It might seem like a discouraging way to think, but I truly believe that some of the best lessons are learned following a failure or a struggle . Hold on, stay with me here and I promise it’ll make sense.
Failure is relative – what one person views as a failure might be viewed as highly successful to someone else. Coming in second place might be a failure, or it could be a huge success when you consider that you beat a handful of other people. Getting an assignment back with a few small edits on it might be a failure, or it could be seen as positive because the last draft was thoroughly edited. In either case, you can learn from the feedback given. This is the most important thing to remember – learn from all outcomes!
Everyone experiences failure at some point in their lives. Whether it’s on an exam, in competition, or not landing a job you wanted, we’ve all been there. I’ve had three moments that standout in my mind which I consider failures but taught me something important:
- Placing 6th in a bikini competition my first year. Obviously, as a competitive person, I enter a show with the hopes of winning, but placing top five allows you to advance to the next level of competitions. During the first round of the competition, it was really unclear of where I was placed. Finding out at finals that I hadn’t made the top five was tough to deal with. Why? Because I was the most proud of the physique I had brought to that stage. My legs were lean enough to see quad separation and I was hooked on the look of it! So, lesson learned – the look I wanted didn’t belong in bikini, giving me a new goal to work towards. Outcome: I worked my butt off and have found the category I truly love to compete in.
- Struggling through prep for my last competition. I debated for a number of weeks about entering my second competition last year, finally deciding to do it because it was in my home town and it would be fun to get on stage again. Well, prep was a nightmare. I struggled each and every day. I hated every meal, was frustrated with training, was angered by everything (and everyone most days), and cried so many times I lost count – my hormones were haywire. What did I learn? That I can persevere, I am resilient, and mentally stronger than I thought. I also learned that if I’m not fully recovered or 110% ready to compete I shouldn’t do it. Ever. Again. Outcome: I pushed through and took the overall title.
- Getting divorced. Talk about a huge failure, right? I failed in the sense that I made the wrong decision on who to marry, and failed from the perspective that we couldn’t make it work. Huge lessons learned though – confidence, mental strength, and self-worth. I learned to fully appreciate positive qualities in people, things that make a relationship strong and function smoothly and most importantly, not to settle or accept less than I deserve. Outcome: I met the man of my dreams and have loved life ever since.
When you’ve reached the end point of your goal, stop and ask yourself these questions:
- Did I learn something?
- Did I have fun working towards this goal?
- Did I give up when things got hard, or push through?
- Have I gained a new experience?
- Did this open doors to new experiences for me?
If the answer is yes to any or all of the above, I’d say the outcome was pretty successful, regardless of what the “official” outcome was.
And don’t forget – even if you win, there’s still progress to make, room to grow, and things to learn. Never stop looking for those improvements.
Now, get out there and try something – anything! What’s the worst that can happen??