Every failure teaches a valuable lesson. So, it can be viewed as virtually a necessity for both career and character growth. Failure is, in fact, a logical step towards success. Generally, people tend to hide their mistakes or shovel them onto someone else’s shoulder whenever they meet with failure. Instead, it would be worth to meet their mistakes head- on, call attention to them in order to find some effective means of damage control and learn a valuable lesson that can be applied in a future similar situation.
How a person deals with failure depends to a large extent on his ego resilience whether his sense of self-worth bounces back after defeat or is it crushed. Some people have a very large ego which is impermeable. They either do not admit a mistake ever occurred or cover it up when possible. They thus never learn a lesson from their failure and are doomed to repeat their mistakes again and again. It is because they never accept their mistakes in the first place.
Some other people, who have highest ego resilience, not only learn from their setbacks but also find a measure of confidence in themselves from the manner in which they deal with those setbacks. Their pride is tempered enough to admit to a mistake and hence they are less likely than others to get crushed by a defeat. They take steps to rectify a bad situation as early as possible rather than making a stubborn attempt to save face.
Then there are people who retire into a period of self-examination to review their strengths, weaknesses, and career opportunities, when struck by a failure. This gives them the opportunity to be more realistic about themselves and they often become better after gaining a measure of insight into what really happened.
The last category is the people who have very fragile egos. They are crushed by defeat and never operate effectively again. They become helpless and the fear of failure can create a sense of future defeat in them. It would indeed prevent them from ever trying for success again.
Some people seem to be knowingly sticking to a failing course of action. It may be because it is not always easy to tell when failure is actually occurring. They are willing to wait patiently till it is very clear that failure is imminent. People who have never failed before perhaps wait a bit too patiently. Then there is a category of people who might have experienced success in the past by ignoring negative feedback. It becomes difficult for them to differentiate between a temporary failure and a permanent one. For them it is like gambling, where a player always convinces himself that the next hand would change his luck.
But the most obvious reason for persistence in the face of failure is the desire of not losing face with your peers. Since no one likes to be branded a loser, people invest additional time and resources in a failing endeavor. They make a desperate attempt to turn things around and prove that they were correct. And, if they manage to win in the end, the rewards are twice as sweet as those achieved in an ordinary situation. The belief that leadership is born of persistence has unfortunately led many a people to continue a failing endeavor, lest they look like quitters.
The best way to guard you in such situations is by encouraging and creating an environment where accurate information is accepted and valued. Do not be afraid to seek unbiased opinions wherever necessary. When things go wrong, instead of making decisions single-handedly, look for a partner to discuss and help you in making a decision. If circumstances demand, seek reconciliation with an adversary. If you win, be wise enough to bring the defeated rival into your camp.
Extra arrogance is also a sure cause of failure. Never ignore those who helped you as it would build a lot of animosity. Instead, stay in loyal contact with them. Act before disaster strikes and do not wait for it to strike to make the inevitable decision. Always remember risk-to- reward ratio and do not take big financial risks for relatively small rewards. Do not unnecessarily cling to an idea beyond its heyday and do not part with your idea until the time is ripe for it. Learn to wait for appropriate moment and lastly, do not ever ignore your competitors or competition.
However, if failure inevitably occurs, a certain degree of grace under pressure has to be maintained if you ever want to make it to the top. It is not an easy thing to do. The best way is to engage in some form of damage control and make yourself very busy fighting the good fight. Ask yourself a big question: What’s the worst thing that could happen? Knowing how bad the failure is would be a lot more comforting than facing unknown doom which can increase with your imagination. Additionally, it would help you realize that the failure is rarely as bad as you thought it was.
Next thing would be to find out whether the failure would cause a temporary or permanent derailment. Very few failures have the ability to totally ruin your life. Often, a failure does not mean that what has occurred is irreversible. Every failure comes with a gift in the form of a lesson or opportunity. Never assume a mistake is not correctable. You have nothing to lose by facing it and making yourself look for an opportunity.
Do not make the mistake of becoming immobilized, when struck by a failure. It will make you lose confidence in your ability to do something right. Hence, do something—no matter how minor—even if a solution is not immediately apparent. The best thing would be to target some minor aspect of damage control and act upon it. It may seem trivial but it may also get you back on track.
Also, there are few other things to remember when the hard times hit. First, do not try to hide your mistake because problems have a way of compounding over time. Second, do not try to save yourself with excuses unless the cause of your failure was so far out of your control that you were in fact the helpless victim of events. It is because people will be inclined to respect you if you take responsibility for your failure, while they will dislike you, if you are an excuse-maker. Lastly, it is of utmost importance to show some remorse when you have failed.
If you do not show, others will think that you do not care about your mistakes, implying that you do not take things as seriously as you should, and have no desire to improve. And finally, do not shy of letting others know you are sorry.