After you've spent all your time and effort on pursuing something and it simply doesn't work out, accepting what feels like a defeat can be incredibly difficult.
But the reality is, a failure is not always a total loss. Failure is a new experience gained, and if you view it in the right perspective, failure can provide powerful lessons.
So how do you stop thinking about what went wrong? How do you move past the harsh parts of failure, so you can start moving towards success?
Ask Pat Lafferty, U.S. President of advertising agency mcgarrybowen, who spent seven years in the Army before entering the business world. During his seven years in the Army, he learned some key methods for moving beyond failure that he now applies daily to his professional life.
1. Show your emotions.
Employees need a leader -- one who isn't afraid to be an emotional human being. If you've suffered a failure and you're feeling angry, stressed, disappointed, or any other emotion, show some of what you are feeling. There are plenty of times when you need to be optimistic, upbeat, and solution-focused, of course, but when workers only see smiles and positivity, they may feel like they're being led by someone with impossible standards. After Lafferty learned to show the full range of his emotions, his effectiveness as a leader dramatically increased.
2. Acknowledge mistakes quickly.
It is very, very hard to admit failure. Once failure hits, self-preservation kicks in and we unconsciously convince ourselves that we're right. To address this, Lafferty says, "I find that I have to make sure I'm being honest with myself and admit when I fail." Next, he creates an environment where it's good to own and learn from failure. "Then," explains Lafferty, "I try my darnedest to help people discover their failures or weaknesses on their own terms." Acknowledging mistakes helps everyone move beyond them.
Leaders cannot linger on failure. In fact, the way to accelerate beyond failure is to give someone a new, tougher task shortly after they've failed. This demonstrates your confidence in them and provides another opportunity to shine.
3. Trust your partners and lean on them.
As you move up the ranks and take on more responsibility, you're bound to face some high-stakes tests. When things don't go as planned, the only way to move beyond them is to regroup with your partners and advisors. Together, you can learn from a big mistake and come out stronger. The motivation to live up to someone's expectations is much more powerful than the fear of repercussions.
Suggests Lafferty, "Failure is a critical component to advancement." If you want to advance anywhere in your business or personal life, remember that the road to never-been-done is littered with failures.