How to deal with failure how do successful people handle failing don't give up

How to Deal with Failure

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How to deal with failure

Failure.  It’s an ugly word, isn’t it?  Ever since we were in elementary school, getting a big fat red F was bad news bears.  

We want to avoid failure like the plague, but it seems inevitable that we will all face some form of it at some point, doesn’t it?


Last summer, a popular Business Magazine, Success Magazine, released an article entitled The 7 Reasons Why We Fail; here were the subheadings:

  • Lack of persistance
  • Lack of conviction
  • Rationalization
  • Dismissal of past mistakes
  • Lack of discipline
  • Poor Self-esteem
  • Fatalistic attitude

They pretty much hit the nail on the head, no?  I can easily say that, in hindsight, most of the reasons I’ve failed in the past could be summed up by that list above.  However, I think that number 4 needs to be elaborated on a bit.  Perhaps instead of dismissing past mistakes/failures, we should study them and learn from them.  How can we use that failed attempt, or mistake to our advantage in the present and/or future?  Maybe we don’t need to change what we are aiming for, just how we are aiming?  Strategy is key in both business and life.  Without a strategy, would a single historical war have ended in victory?  Without a strategy, we are shooting aimlessly, and like my pastor says:

“He who aims at nothing, will surely hit it”

If you hit a tree with an axe a thousand times, in a thousand different places, then nothing will happen. But, if you hit that same tree a thousand times in the same spot, you will successfully bring it down.

Focus, hit the same mark repeatedly.  What’s wrong with having 1,000 different projects you ask?


When this revelation came to me, I immediately was convicted because I knew I’d be mostly talking to myself here.  But, it’s something that needs to be said, and I know there is another mom (or human) who needs to hear this difficult truth too.  If you’re involved in too many projects, you’re likely going to struggle.  You’re spreading yourself too thin.  You’ll be good for nothing, exhausted, and more likely to fail at all the things you’re struggling to juggle.

It’s important that we focus our time and energies on things that are the most important first.  There’s a song by Jonny Diaz, a christian artist, called Breathe, and that song tends to come on at just the right moment for me, typically in the car (heyyyyy KLove) when we’re [yet again] rushing somewhere.  One part goes: “Let your weary spirit rest, lay down what’s good and find what’s best, just breathe“. Isn’t that some great advice, friends?  Let’s not get so caught up in being a Martha, too busy for our own (or anyone else’s) good, and focus on what really matters.  Only then can we be our best version of ourselves, and prevent failure from exhaustion – or from being a “Jack of all trades, master of none” which is a fine skill to have, but if you’re trying to excel at something, you need to hone your efforts and energies a bit more.


The very worst thing that we can do when we fail, is to give up and stop trying.  A quote by Morihei Ueshiba (some random Japanese guy who did martial arts, according to Wiki) says “Failure is the key to success.  Each mistake teaches us something.”  Are you hearing this?  We actually have to fail [sometimes] to succeed!  We’ll never learn what works if we don’t first learn what doesn’t!  The next time something you’re trying to do doesn’t work out, do some research on any of the great inventors in history.  Better yet, talk to someone you personally know who is successful at what they do.  Ask them what it took to get where they’re at.  Find out if they were an overnight success, or after many failures and trials got to where they are now.  Life is a journey not a destination, make a plan, buckle up and enjoy the ride!

aaaand for your personal enjoyment (or annoyance) here’s a song that gets stuck in my head all the time on this theme – yea I watch Sesame Street with my kids!

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