How to deal with failure at work

Learning how to deal with failure at work and seeing it as a positive often takes a change of mindset.

In this video I give you tips on how to accept failure and use it to propel you to even greater success.

If you have failed recently and need a boost to your confidence or get the confidence back from your team, this post would be a good one for you too: Building Leadership Confidence – What It Takes (opens in a separate tab, for your convenience).

How to deal with failure at work – script

In life, when you fail, you learn.

I don’t know in life how else you learn, if you don’t fail. Look at many many people in history who have been successful in part because they have learnt from their failures. For example, J.K.Rowling. She was out of a job, she was on welfare and she was a single mum when she sat in that coffee shop and she wrote Harry Potter. Then, there’s Steve Jobs. He dropped out of college and later he was fired by Apple. The said that was the best time of his career. He learnt more and grew more than at any other time in his career. He came back and turned Apple into the largest company in the world. Look at Micheal Johnson, a very very successful player, but lost 300 games, missed 26 crucial game winning shots. Gutting! But, he didn’t give up, he carried on.

These people all have something in common, they take control. They take control of their thoughts and they take control of the way they perceive themselves.

Your brain does funny things with you when you fail – it distorts your perceptions of your goals. It makes them look unattainable.

There was a study, where a bunch of people who were given an American football were asked to kick the ball over the post. Then they were asked to guess the distance to the post and the height of the posts. The people who failed said the posts were further away and higher. So, the brain was telling them it couldn’t be done!

The best line I’ve heard this year was from a Sales Leader from LinkedIn in a work shop. She said, “You know everyone, you just need to treat you brain like your bitch!”.

When you fail, your brain creates a feeling of a wound and makes you feel helpless. It is doing that to try and avoid another wound. The point it is trying to gain is to stop you failing in the same way again. You will do things differently. And if you do fail again, it probably won’t be in the same way. You’ve learnt something, you are going to apply some new knowledge and new skills. You are going to do things differently.

Another thing about the brain is it makes you unconsciously fear failure. I have met alot of people who have feared failure, and it’s subconscious.

You can tend to not logically think about your thoughts and don’t think about the reality of the risk or potential failure. And then it kind of gets worse, because they think the are going to fail they put things in place to almost make them-self fail.

This can then lead to people self sabotaging to then have an excuse for when they do fail.

We often take leaders up to the mountains. We ask them to cross a chasm, a hundred foot down and a hundred foot across. It’s terrifying. The night before they have to prepare. Often people stay too long at the bar so when they wake the next day they are not at their best, they’ve got a hangover, they’ve got an excuse to fail!

They often sit at breakfast too long. The group therefore gets out too late. They get to the chasm and there’s not really enough time to get across. Instead – you need to take control. If you don’t fail, you don’t get that sinking feeling. You don’t get that motivation to push to get better.

To get through failure you need to take control of the variables. Try to workout what you can control and what you can’t control and then divide them. Focus on the things you can’t control e.g. do more planning, gain more knowledge, talk to more people, make sure you feel good and healthy, make sure it’s a good day to take a risk – and then it helps.

I can’t tell you how many people tell me “I’m really shocking at presentations Andy. I’m really terrible on my feet. But I tell you what, I’m awesome when I know my subject and I plan”. Well guess what – do some bloody planning and know your bloody subject!

You have to GET CONTROL, if you get control on things it is literally the antidote for helplessness and demoralization – but you have to take risks.

If you want something you have never done you need to do something you have never done!

So! Give it a shot, you can do it! Let us know how you have failed in life and where you have learnt and your inspiring stories of coming back.

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