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What is failure?

Failure is giving in or giving up. It is throwing in the towel and walking away. Failure is passive and accepting that something does not work. 

Failure is also a key point of learning. By learning from what you have failed at, you become stronger and more resilient. Consider the failure a test. If something has not worked, are you going in the right direction?

·      If it’s a business: do you need to innovate? Or do you need to sell off what is costing you money?

·      If it’s a relationship: what has caused it to fail? Is more support needed? Are you being realistic of your expectations of each other?

·      If it’s a career: do you need more training? Or is it time to do something else? 

If you have failed to achieve what you would like to do in life, do you know why? Do you know what you need to do? Do you know what you could do?

Failure is letting it define you.

People who thrive despite failure are the ones who learn from it. So when you encounter failure, be glad you are brave enough to fail. What does failing teach you? 

J. K. Rowling, in her commencement speech to the Harvard graduates of 2008, talked about the benefits of failure. She observed the fact that as Harvard graduates they probably were not that familiar with the concept, but in life failure happens.

To illustrate how failure can benefit the individual, she talked about her own life as a graduate and an unemployed single mother:

‘So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.’1

Hear J.K. Rowling’s full speech

Failure Is not getting up

If you have failed and you feel you are at rock bottom, then the only way to go is up. It can only get better. You need help, so get help. 

You get up and you get on with it; it will not pull you down.

When you retell your story, what’s the most compelling part? It’s the part where you got up and kept going. People who hear will listen and understand. Those who see will look with wonder at what you have come through. People who feel will connect with you. You are not alone. 

Failure can be the most powerful learning tool you ever have. It will build resilience and provide you with future tools to thrive.

Failure is not an option—it’s an opportunity.

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