The Positives in Failure

Even though we have all these great productivity tools, we still experience failure. Does that mean we need to pursue a new life path? No. Do we need a new productivity system? Not necessarily. Failure is normal, even expected. If you never failed at anything, you probably wouldn’t have the drive to continue accomplishing goals or projects. The New Year is coming fast—this is a time of reflection and redemption. We can all try again, make new goals, and try new things as we enter 2012. Here are a few positive aspects of failure you can focus on to help you maintain your perspective and move forward in the New Year.


You don’t need to be afraid of making mistakes. Think about some of the mistakes you’ve made in your life. Are they the result of cautious behavior or did you step out of your comfort zone and try something new and daring? We need to stretch ourselves, but this probably means we’ll be faced with failure at some point or other. When this happens, focus on what you gained from the experience.


Failure often provides a lesson you can learn from. When you fail and it only affects you, it is a chance for you to learn and grow. You know yourself, so it should be easy to evaluate the problems you had and identify ways to fix them in the future. Go through the process again, and make adjustments as needed.

Often we are working in a team setting that fails. It is much harder to resolve these types of failure. I remember a semester-long group project I worked on in college. It failed miserably where it should have been an amazing experience. Even now, I struggle to pinpoint the exact cause for why the project went so horribly. But one factor for sure is communication. For every team failure, there is likely a communication breakdown hiding in the corner. After my experience, I worked on making sure I was heard and that I listened to others. If you need to improve your communication skills, make a plan to be more patient, understanding, and expressive the next time you work in a group setting.


Failing gives you patience and understanding in the future. When you see others fail, you can look back on your experiences and remember what it felt like. Then you can offer advice, comfort, and a positive outlook for the future—after all, you turned out great, didn’t you?

Personal Growth

All of these positives culminate into a stronger, better you. You took a risk, learned from it, helped others through their failures, and now you are better for it. You’ve been through a process that may have brought you down, but now you can rise even higher than where you were. Take a moment to reflect on how you’ve grown through the years, and make note of the events that moved you forward the most.

When you experience failure, try again, or try something new. Keep a healthy attitude; this doesn’t mean reckless optimism—be realistic, but be positive. Know your limits and where you can stretch them. Focus on what you have done well, and what you continue to do well and remember to praise yourself. Make a plan for the future—how to deal with future failures and how to celebrate future successes. There will definitely be some of both.

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