Complete failure? — Follow these 11 steps

This curated column is authored by investor, advisor and consultant Sajid Rahman


We fail. More often than we like to experience.

I failed so many times that I lost count. From failures in businesses to failures in jobs. From personal life to professional life.

There were periods in my life, when I did not feel like getting out of bed. Too depressed to go to work. To face others.

I wanted to be invisible.

Miserable to the core.

Failures can be a slow experience. Sort of like a train wreck unfolding in front of your eyes. The difference is that it is happening to you.

Or, other times, it can be all on a sudden. It can happen overnight.

Because of some weird thing beyond your control. You were doing all good. Suddenly, out of nowhere, thrown under the bus.

When it happens, it hits hard. And it hurts.

How do you move on from there? From a state of no hope to be back on the track.

Ready for another lap.

Going through my experiences of failures, I started experimenting.

What works and what does not work? How do I get out of the situation quicker than before? How can I prepare myself before I face failure?

1. Be friend to failure

Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing — Denis Waitley

Build a friendship with failure. As if it is a part of your life. Not some unexpected guests. Treat failure like a close friend.

The way to build this friendship is to push yourself to the edge. Experiment. Knowing the high likelihood to fail.

Start small. The more you fail, the more you get to know failure.

2. Take Responsibility

A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else — John Burroughs

When things go wrong, take responsibility. Don’t blame others.

Failure makes us feel helpless. If we blame others, we only increase the helplessness further. It is a downward cycle.

When you take responsibility, you are in control. You are the one in charge.

You will feel less depressed and more empowered. You will come out of the hole quicker.

3. Have Options

Whenever you are given two choices, look out for the third option.― Sara Arinto

There is a saying that the best option is to have options. Always have options.

This is somewhat counterintuitive. We have heard the myths of going all in.

Experience indicates that people with options are in better position to manage failures.

Don’t spend all your waking moment working on your career. The company may go bankrupt out of nowhere. One fine morning, you may not have a career any longer.

Build a balanced life.

What are your options if your main source of income is no longer there? What do you fall back on? Are you building enough options in your life?

4. Be the resilient machine

The most dangerous poison is the feeling of achievement. The antidote is to, every evening, think what can be done better tomorrow. -Ingvar Kamprad

In stoic philosophy, there is a concept of “premeditation of evil”. The practice is to consider all the things that can go wrong before you start your project.

Assume the project has failed.

What are the areas to improve upon? Why did it fail?

And prepare your mind accordingly.

Everyday when you wake up, think what can go wrong that day.

Prepare your mind to be the resilient machine that can face any failure.

5. Focus on the process

I believe in process. I believe in four seasons. I believe that winter’s tough, but spring’s coming. I believe that there’s a growing season. And I think that you realize that in life, you grow. You get better — Steve Southerland

Faced with failure, focus on the method. Immerse yourself in the process.

Lost your job at the height of your career?

Write down the steps that you will need to take from here.

Don’t spend time wondering when you will get your next job

or dwelling in the past.

Take the first step. Reach out to your network. Make a list and start following up.

Follow the process like that is the only thing that matters.

One step at a time.

6. Build a daily routine

Good habits are worth being fanatical about. — John Irving

Have a daily routine. The routine will guide you through difficult times.

A good routine is the right mix of:

Physical activities + mental activities + proper rest.

Exercise and meditation and deep sleep.

I have written about routines in more details here. Follow the routine regularly. Turn it into your habit.

Something that you do irrespective of where you are in your life.

The routine will reinforce your mind that you are in control. Will help to bounce back.

7. Laugh (loudly)

No man is a failure who is enjoying life — William Feather

Laugh out loud. Watch standup comedies. Spend time with friends that make you laugh.

Even if you do not feel like it.

Laughter serves many purposes. It produces the chemical in your brain that uplifts your mood.

Make you ready for another day.

8. Build a network of friends

It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Connect with your old friends. Maintain the current one. Make a time every week to spend time with friends. Build the network actively.

Build a network of true friends.

A good network of friends and family will be your bedrock when things are tough. They are the ones who will accept your mistakes, unconditionally. Accept your failures without questions.

Help you bounce back.

9. Be curious

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths — Walt Disney

Remain curious. Ask questions. Keep learning new things.

We live in a world of uncertainty. The curious mind will help you navigate.

Understand the trend.

What is happening in your environment? Why things go wrong when it goes wrong?

Even if it does not provide answer, it will show a path.

10. Put failures in context

Not to live as if you had endless years ahead of you. Death overshadows you. While you’re alive and able — be good. — Marcus Aurelius

No failure is large enough in the long run. Time will heal.

All failures are temporary in nature. That is the power of time.

As long as you are breathing, enjoy the life you have.

Put your failures in the context of life and the purpose you have in the world. How insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things.

Is any failure larger than life?

11. Be grounded

When someone is properly grounded in life, they shouldn’t have to look outside themselves for approval — Epictetus

Find meaning in yourself not outside. Many of our anxieties come from our fear of perception.

When faced with failure, we worry about perception.

How will society view me? By others?

All these are temporary.

Find strength in the fact that you are the one in the arena. You are the one with the experience. You are the one who tried and failed.

The others are spectators at the gallery. Passing opinions and comments.

Build a centred life.

Before you go…

You may also like my 27-pages Free ebook — a collection of selected blogs. It will give you specific steps (specially check out the seven steps to make tough choices in life) to follow to be successful in life and career.

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Disclaimer: This is a curated post. The statements, opinions and data contained in this column are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not that of iamwire or its editor(s). The article in its original form was published by the author here.

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