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We have all heard the stories of people who had significant failures and then went on to something great. Edison went through numerous renditions of the lightbulb. Babe Ruth struck out more than he hit home runs. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.

Do you ever hear these stories and think, yes, but, they are brilliant, they have the time or they didn’t mess up someone’s life in the process?

Know that at the time they didn’t seem brilliant, they made the time and everyone looks at them in awe not thinking about the failures they had.


Here are 3 tips to help you think of failures as steps to success-


  1. Develop a growth mindset – Often times we think in other/or terms. Someone is either smart or dumb. The issue with this is that when we think this way if we do have a failure it means the opposite of success. Positive Psychology researcher Angela Duckworth, in her book Grit, suggests that with practice we can learn to view our setbacks as a growth experience or something that we can learn from. This one failure doesn’t mean you are a failure.


  1. What did you learn – When you have what you deem as a failure instead of naming a failure talk about it in a different way. Say, ‘That was interesting.’ or ‘Excellent!’. When you change your language about an experience it changes how you view and feel about that experience. This can turn the setback into a learning experience.


  1. Remember that you did something – I tell my students that the only stupid question is the question that isn’t asked. Failure is truly only a failure when you haven’t taken action. If you tried and it didn’t work, that isn’t failure. It is one thing you tried that didn’t work. There are plenty of other tactics to get to the finish line.


Don’t let what you view as a failure to be something that ends your game. Talk about it differently and think about how you can learn from it. And in the end remember that you got out and tried which is more than a lot of people do.

Keep Your Head in the Game


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