As silly as this sounds, I’ve always been a firm believer in failure. When we fail, we learn so much about ourselves. We understand certain things that work or don’t, we take alternative roads, and we find ways to pull ourselves back up by the bootstraps and begin again.
When I look back over my life (especially in my professional life) some of the greatest lessons I learned came from completely messing up. It was the interviews I almost didn’t get, the emails I shouldn’t have sent, and the career decisions that were completely wrong—those taught me who I was and what I wanted to build myself and my business off of. Those mistakes pushed me forward with not only the confidence to do better next time, but to take what I learned and grow myself into someone more self-sufficient and resilient.
A few weeks ago, The New York Times published a piece about having a ‘failure resume’ and it really stuck with me. So often we glorify the good things we’ve done, the positives, the achievements—and those are great, obviously! But isn’t it truly the mistakes that we grow from?
As humans, we pull away from failure whenever we can. We don’t want to make mistakes, look unprepared or immature. But here is different way of thinking—the up-side of failure! These are the lessons you learn only when you completely mess up:
1. You learn what you truly want.
There’s something to be said for finding what you love and pursuing it—I believe wholeheartedly in this! But how do you find what you love if you don’t identify what you don’t? Look at it this way: if you don’t make a few wrong turns down the road, you’ll never understand what path truly jives with your personal and professional goals. If you don’t take a job you hate or completely suck at, you’ll never discover what brings you joy.
2. You learn how to say ‘no.’
I’ve written countless articles on the value of saying ‘yes’ to people and opportunities. This is something I feel very strongly about because it’s a way of taking your life in your own hands. When you’re too afraid to jump into opportunities, you fall stagnant. But on the other hand, you don’t want to jump into everything.
Failing teaches you the value of saying ‘yes,’ but more importantly, it teaches you how to say ‘no.’ Perhaps you jumped into an opportunity you thought you wanted but it went absolutely wrong. This isn’t something to hang your head over—it’s something to celebrate! In making a mistake, you’ve learned what it is you don’t want or need in your life. And sometimes it’s so damn hard to figure that out and empower yourself to say ‘no’ in the future without first messing up.
3. You discover your personal sense of balance and the importance of it.
I cannot stress how important balance is. This is something I think we all are working towards, no matter how old we are or how many years of experience we’ve had in our specific fields. Learning how to balance your work and personal life will probably be one of the hardest things you’ll do, but it’s infinitely valuable. And when you make mistakes, this becomes apparent. When you prioritize one thing over another, you’ll realize you’re stretched too thin or not being enough for the things that truly matter.
4. You learn red flags to take note of (in people and situations).
Have you ever had one of those moments where you want to kick yourself in the foot because you should have, would have, could have? Or one of those moments when you wish you would have listened to that little voice in your head? Failing does that to you. When you make mistakes, you realize how important it is to listen to your conscience and take note of red flags. This makes you better prepared when another similar situation arises in the future.
5. You gain the respect of others.
As ironic as this sounds, it’s true—when you make mistakes, you actually gain the respect of others. How? By how you recover, by avoiding issues in the future, and by being a well-rounded human being who accepts and understands that failure is a part of life and nothing to be ashamed of.
When you make a mistake, you have to own up to it. When you do, other people will respect you for a) your transparency, b) your willingness to be vulnerable, and c) your ability to put it behind you and move forward. No one expects you to be perfect because everyone makes mistakes, but they do expect you to be accountable—that’s what will earn you respect!
Featured Image Credit: Emma Dau[