The Important Lessons We Can Learn From Failures


Really there is no such thing as failure. There are only life lessons, learning, and growth. When one thing doesn’t work out, something else will.


The thing that keeps you from success is giving up and not failure.


Failure is like a mistake. It’s okay to make mistakes; mistakes are how we learn. Edison understood all this. He said,


"I didn't fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps."

Albert Einstein never spoke a word until he turned four, and did not read a word until he was seven. He could have been considered a failure, and yet he is one of the most brilliant minds in all of history.


If you are going through a failure right now, you are probably not enjoying the experience. It generally isn’t fun. However, there are reasons to celebrate it, although you may not see them at this very moment.


Here are some of the reasons to find more acceptance of failure as the inevitable part of life that it is, and to see it from a new, more positive perspective.


Failure is what drives you towards success


Just like the story of Edison and his light bulb, every failure is a step in the right direction towards success, even though it often feels nothing like that. Failure is difficult, uncomfortable and can be humiliating. However, knowing there is a hidden purpose at work can help you accept the discomfort of the moment. Buddhism talks about the 10,000 sorrows and the 10,000 joys, an illustration that failure is an inescapable part of life.


Never give up


It doesn’t matter if you fail. It doesn’t matter how many times you fail. What matters is that you “get straight back on the horse” and keep on going.


Failure helps you see what is important to you


When we fail, it is like a loss. Something we loved, longed for, or valued, is taken from us. This can be very painful and hard to bear. However, in the pain and sorrow of our flawed, cracked, selves lie seams of gold: embrace them. Every cloud has a silver lining. Sometimes a failure is just what we need to direct us to those seams of gold. Perhaps we were looking in the wrong place. Failure helps direct us to the right place.


Consider the hero’s journey


Joseph Campbell wrote about the symbolism of the hero’s journey as found thematically in ancient mythological tales. It can be a metaphor for life’s journey that we all must undergo; equally, it can be seen as a metaphor of the experience of failure and the lessons to be learned.


Campbell explains how the hero is sent on a quest. He embarks upon a long journey. At some point, he descends into the underworld, where he is torn into shreds by demons. He is completely dismembered.


But then he is “remembered,” that is, he is put back together again, but in a new way; he remembers who he truly is. Then he is able to return to the world of night and day, bringing with him new gifts to share with the world.


Failure can be a very dark and scary place. We may feel we are being torn into pieces. It can be like a kind of tortuous dismemberment. However, in that process a kind of alchemy takes place.


Viewing failure as a valuable teacher and treating it as a guide to our next steps on the path to success can help us to find greater acceptance when we are next faced with it.