How to Succeed Through Failures

The truth about leadership is that you will encounter failures and make mistakes. Remember every leader goes through times of failure however not every leader successfully moves through it. Some allow failures to stop them while others turn them into stepping stones. Below are three ways you can successfully move through a failure:

1. Have a realistic awareness

The definition of being realistic is “Showing awareness and acceptance of reality.” During a failure it can be difficult to process or admit what has happened. But to move through a failure it requires that a leader understands the situation and acknowledges what has happened. Being aware can allow you to move quickly and smoothly away from the failure. It’s important to remember that a failure and situation is not permanent. At some point your failure will be in the past and if you have handled it correctly you will be able to move toward success.

2. Cultivate and maintain your attitude

If you want to successfully move through a failure it requires that you maintain your attitude while controlling your emotions. Failure can stir many different emotions, like anger or frustration. Having these types of emotions is normal but we can’t allow our emotions to cause us to react negatively or cause us to have a bad attitude. To control our emotions and attitude requires both self-awareness and self-control. During a failure focus and put effort into cultivating a positive and optimistic attitude. Acknowledge your emotions but don’t allow them to drive your actions or attitude.

3. Put on a learning cap

A leader should allow failures to become learning and growth opportunities. Though a failure can be painful and hard we can still gain knowledge and learn from what has happened. This happens when a leader takes time during and after a failure to reflect and think about the situation. When a leader does this it allows them to see what they could or should have done differently, then make the necessary adjustments to changes so it doesn’t happen again. If you learn through a failure it has the potential to excel you forward. Don’t allow the failure or bad situation to prevent you from gaining wisdom and insights that are in the failure.

Questions: What are some other ways a leader can move from failure to success?How have you successfully moved through a failure?

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44 thoughts on “How to Succeed Through Failures

  1. For me it is very important to remain humble in my failures. I often have a tendency to not learn from my failures because I blame them on the circumstances I found myself in or on other people. However, when I really humble myself I realize that a lot really does depend upon me and I begin to take responsibility. Only then can I truly learn from my failures. Thanks for the great post!

    • Staying humble during a failure can be hard but it’s so important to have. I make it a point to humble myself and to focus on God and His guidance. Thank you for being open and sharing.

    • It’s always interesting to me that failing inspires humility. It’s a natural teacher. Once we progress to the point that we are humble in our failures, we begin to learn through our failures. Great thoughts, Caleb.

  2. Failure provides us with one of the best opportunities life has to offer . . . the chance to learn. Every failure is a chance to better ourselves.

    If we are willing, that is.

    Failure is not what does the damage, it is the way we respond to it. Blaming someone else, or the whole world even, is the worst possible choice. What we are then saying is, “I relinquish control of my life. I give up my power of choice. I’m simply a fool to be kicked around at whim.”

    Failure is a good thing. Not pleasant, but good nonetheless. Because failure is simply a lesson in disguise. And those who learn their lessons always go further than those who don’t.

    Cheers!

    • Great thoughts Trevor. Blaming someone else will only prevent us from learning from the failure. Going into failure with the mindset of learning and growing through it is so important. This mindset/attitude usually starts before the failure. Thank you for reading and adding to the conversation.

  3. Hi Dan,
    Another great piece indeed. One way anyone can conquer failure is simply by cultivating a winning attitude. That you failed doesn’t mean you’re a failure, it only means you’ve not succeeded yet, and the best thing you can do then is to get up and try again.

    Monoply is the name of the game here which means that repetition is king. Let me sum it up with Napoleon Hills quote…..

    WE ARE WHAT YOU REPEATEDLY DO THEREFORE, SUCCESS IS NEVER AN ACT, BUT A HABIT.

    Thanks for sharing man and have a great weekend.

    • Thank you Nwangene:) I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Great point, it goes back to our self talk and perspective of our self’s. Winners don’t allow failures to define them. GREAT quote!!! Thank you so much for adding to the topic by sharing your thoughts and the quote:)

      You also have a great weekend!!!

  4. It’s very important to learn from failure and I’m glad you touched upon this. Many people feel discouraged and simply give up, wasting the potential to grow and become a thousand times stronger. I’ll admit, failure is miserable at times. However, that doesn’t stop me because I know inaction is even worse than failure because with inaction you default into “failure” anyways.

    • Hello Vincent,

      I think a lot of people who don’t learn or stop because of failure has allowed the failure to define them. We should not let failure (no matter how big) define who we are or our future. I think that’s why having high self esteem and confidence is so important. Thank you for reading and adding to the conversation:) I appreciate it.

  5. Excellent advice, Dan. We’re on the same page today. “Struggles will either be used as tools to make great lives or weapons used to defeat us.” Every one gets struggles and failures; it’s what we do with that experience that makes the difference in us. Good reminder, my friend.

    • Thank you Floyd:)

      I’m sure we both have some stories to tell about how we have moved successfully through a failure or mistake. It would be great to hear some of yours the next time your in town:) Thank you for reading and commenting.

  6. Great post Dan. One of the main ways I move forward from failure is through the help of God :) My natural tendency is anything but “quick bounce back”. I tend to over dramatize :) and really feel blows. The Holy Spirit nonetheless reminds me of the things I should do and always helps me forward. He leads me towards actual steps – the ones you’ve shared in this post. Thanks for a great post.

    • Hello Ngina,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Great points!!! Replying and trusting on God is the best way to move through a failure. Thank you so much for bring this point up:)

    • The only time we failure is if we give up after the event. Great people and leaders keep moving even through time of failure or mistakes. Thanks for reading and sharing.

  7. Dan, I think most successes come from failures. Once you can pick yourself up and move on and learn from the failure you can lead yourself to success. Too many people would just give up. They feel that failure is an ending. It doesn’t have to be, it should be thought of as a beginning.

    • Hello Lisa,

      I totally agree with you. I know myself and many other people who have been successful in spit of a failure. I think it takes perseverance and endurance to keep going when we are going through a failure or mistake. Thank you for stopping by to read and share your thoughts:)

  8. i realize that failure is just part of the path to success. there are no shortcuts! i have had many failures and it requires the ability to detach from the past or even present problem and focus on the things you can control to move past the issues.

    • Hello Janet,

      That’s a great mindset to have. Knowing failures can/will lead to success can give us a different perspective about them. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and add to the discussion.

    • Nope:) The key is to think about the long term and have that mindset in the middle of a failure. Great example of someone who failed successfully. Thank you for sharing, I appreciate you.

  9. Hi Dan,

    This was another great post on a very important topic.

    On this issue of failure, one thing I’ve learned is that we really need to do all we to expect and accept failure. We are never going to achieve what we want without failing over and over again. I try and use every ‘failure’ as feedback on how I can improve next time. I also try and create as much mental distance as I can from the failure. If I don’t get it right, I learn what I need to from the experience, do all I can to not dwell on it and try again.

    • Hello Hiten,

      Thank you:) Great point about how we should expect it to happen. When we expect that it will happen it will not alarm us as much when it does happen. I think that allows us to better learn and grow through it. Thank you so much for taking the time to read the post:)

  10. John Maxwell has a good book on failure, Failing Forward. As leaders, we must let go of our ego and not let the fear of failure hold us back from moving forward towards our dreams. Thanks for sharing, Dan!

    • Ya, I agree. That’s a great book. I read it several years ago and might reread it. Great points about having to let go of our ego which can be a challenge for a lot of leaders. I’m glad you shared your thoughts. Thank you:)

  11. Great post, Dan! I sometimes look at failure as success-in-the-making. The oft-repeated lesson is in Lincoln’s life: how a businessman with so many failures became one of the most celebrated Presidents in history. We can choose two paths: to allow failures to devolve into hopelessness or to use our failures as fuel for success.

  12. Dan,

    For leaders navigating thru failure I believe the following are also key:

    1. Integrity: When we fail our teams are looking to see how we react. Is our character during times of crisis or failure the same when all is going well. If yes, then they see we have integrity,

    2. Transparency: To the extent allowable be forthcoming about your failure. If you hide it they will discover it anyway and your lack of transparency could erode the relationships you have worked hard to build.

    3. Bad News Does Not Get Better with Time: the longer we wait to deliver information regarding our failures the worse it gets. Chances are someone already knows and is actively sharing the news with their co-workers. When your mistakes impact others it is best to be upfront. Once again if you choose not to it will erode the relationships you have worked hard to build.

  13. Great post. If I extend what you’re saying to relationship issues, I have something to add. In other words, sometimes people in essence tell me that I’ve failed, whether I have or not. Going along with what you wrote about emotions, don’t do or say or write anything until you’ve had time to process what you’ve experienced. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way! Wish I could take back the emails sent, but alas. :-)

    • Hello Melanie,

      I think most of us have learned that the hard way, I know I have. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

      ps. sorry for not replying sooner, I missed the comment:)

  14. I enjoyed the first point – probably the only time that being realistic is acceptable 😉

    I’ve always looked at failures as lessons, that helps a lot for me – I can strongly relate to point #3. As a leader though, it’s definitely important to respond to a failure instead of reacting; actually taking a step back and analyzing the situation, finding out what went wrong, etc.

    Great post!

    • Hello Sam,

      Thanks for adding to the topic. Great leaders like our self’s know the importance and value of having a teachable mindset no matter the situation, through failure and successes. Thank you for stopping by and sharing.

  15. I’m thankful for my failures because of the things God has taught me through them. Things I needed to learn such as compassion, not worrying about what people think (still working on that one), seeing life from a biblical perspective, and humility. I would be a much less enjoyable person and much less effective leader if I hadn’t gone through a bunch of failure!

  16. Learning from your failures is key. That’s one of the main reasons why God allows us to fail – it ends up being a gift that can transform us to look more like Christ.

  17. Hi Dan!
    I have been reading about leadership recently and love your post. By breaking it down to the basics, your 3 steps capture the idea in a nutshell.

    One of the traits that I have been working on is about learning from failure. I get a lot of opportunities to do this on my website. At first I was intimidated by the process, but pushed through my mistakes. I can now look back on all of those so called failures as opportunities for growth.

    I have really enjoyed browsing all of the topics on your website.

    Thanks,
    Karen

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Karen. A person can learn a lot when they are taking action on the passions and dreams they have, even if it’s through failure. I know I’ve learned a lot in the several years of blogging. Feel free to come back and add to the discussion.