Just saying the word “fail” or “failure” can feel defeating.  It often comes with such a negative connotation and a feeling of shame or regret.  “I was a failure with the new client.” “I failed to get my point across in the meeting.” “I always fail when I try new things.”  Sound familiar?  Experiencing failure can stop us in our tracks. It can shut down our confidence and cause us to retreat or even give up.  If this sounds like you, then it’s time to reframe how you view failure so you can start to see it for what it is – opportunity.  Opportunity to learn and grow, to practice resiliency, and to be courageous.  Here are three things to consider as you start to reframe failure into something positive and productive.

Failure shows we’re not ruled by fear

In his book, Failing Forward, John Maxwell says “Everything in life brings risk. It’s true that you risk failure if you try something bold because you might miss it. But you also risk failure if you stand still and don’t try anything new.”

Sure we can keep doing the things we know how to do and avoid risk of failing at something new.  But choosing to stay comfortable likely means we fail at achieving our potential and miss the opportunity to grow and stretch into our dreams.  When we chose to avoid the risk of failure we are letting fear make our decisions and ignoring all the real choices that exist.  Yes, it can be scary out there and fear is lurking around many corners telling us the risk is too great and that failure will be too painful.  But who do you want to be?  Someone who avoided failure because they never took a chance?  Or someone who went after a dream, despite the risk of failure and fear of the unknown?  If you are failing, it means you are trying, you are doing more than just surviving the day, you are looking fear in the face and telling it “no”!

Failure is one of the best teachers

Failure is part of the success process.  Did you just start walking one day as a baby or did you take small step and then fall – over and over?  The point is, you didn’t stay down, you weren’t labeled a failure and the grownups around you didn’t give up.  Failure then was part of the lesson and today it’s still meant to teach us what works and what doesn’t so that we can continue fine-tuning ourselves and our objectives for success. If our first try always worked out we’d miss the improved version that comes from trying and failing.  We’d miss the byproducts of failure that are often better than the original idea or effort.  Failure, if you’ll let it,  teaches you be resilient, to get back up and try again with the new knowledge and wisdom you’ve gained.  What has failure taught you?

Failure encourages confidence

Wouldn’t it be great if we could feel confident first, before we actually had to act?  Unfortunately it rarely works that way.  It’s much more likely that we’ll need to act, risk failure, and learn that we’ll survive before we build up confidence.  Confidence acts in spite of the fear of failure, it knows that failure is meant to teach us and to be appreciated, not feared.  Confidence is inspired by what we’ll learn by trying, not just the result of our effort.  Where in your life will you demonstrate confidence despite not knowing whether or not you’ll get the result you’re seeking?   Where can you embrace the experience and learnings as much as you hope to embrace the result of your effort?  Reminding yourself that you will survive failure, and that you can choose to learn and grow from it, increases your confidence and opens doors to your full potential!