Whenever something doesn't go our way, our first thought tends to be: "This isn't right for me. I shouldn't be doing this." And then, we give up. It's too easy to feel dejected and frustrated when something doesn't come out perfectly.

But instead of seeing failure as a futile exercise, look at it from this perspective: Failing is an experiment in itself. Each time you fail, you get feedback on what you did and didn't do wrong. A past mistake is an opportunity to learn and improve for the future.

You are bound to make mistakes along the process of learning new skills or working towards a goal. It's just part of the process to getting better. So if failing is inevitable, then it's best to expect and plan for it.

Anticipate where and when things may go wrong. Listen to others' experiences and your own to see what you can do differently next time. Your results won't be ideal the first time around, as was the case in the invention of the telephone.

What telephones can teach us about failure

Although Alexander Graham Bell is credited as the primary inventor of the telephone, numerous people were involved in pioneering voice transmission using wires. They thought up ways deliver sound over distances by experimenting with ideas and building upon one another's discoveries. Before Bell patented his telephone in 1876, Johann Philipp Reis created a device in 1861 that was able to transmit noises electrically from one end of a wire to another.

Early telephones ranged in their method of transmissions, with some going out of use soon after development. For instance, phones that operated with a magnetic field were used for a period of time in the military during the twentieth century. Over time, some ideas were kept, while others were tossed. A few of the ideas stayed and led to further ideas that advanced the technology of the phone.

A prime example is the candlestick telephone, a popular device in the early twentieth century. It evolved out of the former wall-mounted telephones, which were cumbersome and heavy to use. The candlestick telephone was placed on a desk, where the user listened through the handle and spoke into another component of the phone.

Eventually, the candlestick telephone fell out of use as a newer telephone model allowed users to listen and speak on one component -- today, it's known as the phone handle, which we use on modern phones.

Those early telephones that went out of use or had faults may have seemed pointless, but they weren't. They gave inventors valuable information on what users needed and how to improve the device. The failures were a necessary part of discovery.

Through numerous trials, errors, and iterations, the phone has evolved in the past few centuries to become the smartphone as we know it today. Even in the present day, the phone is still undergoing changes.

More success means more failure

People often think that success means not failing, as if the two were exact opposites. But they're a lot closer than one might realize.

You see, if someone never attempted anything, that person would also never fail or succeed. But when someone does try to learn a new skill or work on an idea, the person starts accumulating both failures and successes.The more success you experience, the more failures you've faced in the past.

Like the invention of the phone, your first effort will most likely not yield the results you want. Things won't be perfect. Instead, you build upon past lessons from the experiences of yourself and others around you.

The important thing to remember is: You are not your failure. It does not define you or mean that you are unworthy. It's just a step that you must get past to become better.

Published on: Dec 11, 2017
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