A 7 Step Process For Dealing With Failure And Other Setbacks

You can accomplish anything if you’re willing to fail along the way. Failure is a consistent part of success. The most successful people fail far more often than the least successful people.

Life is full of setbacks. The question is whether you allow failure and other setbacks to derail your efforts. Everyone can learn to better deal with these common annoyances on the road to success.

Failure is a funny thing. It feels embarrassing and catastrophic, but that’s rarely the case. You fail every day. When you think your keys are in the kitchen drawer, but discover they are not, you failed. However, you don’t let it bother you. Instead, you just look somewhere else.

Dealing with failure can be that simple. If your first attempt doesn’t work, try something else.

The same can be said for your 30th failed attempt. Most people try a time or two and then give up. They decide it either can’t be done, or the stress of failing becomes too much to bear.

Use this process to overcome failure:

  1. Maintain your composure. Nothing will derail your progress like becoming emotionally distraught or quitting altogether. Undesirable results happen more often than not. It’s important to understand this fact.
    • When you expect that you’ll sometimes fail, it won’t bother you nearly as much. You simply keep going.

  2. Determine what went wrong. If possible, determine the error in your approach. Do your best to understand exactly what happened and why. If you don’t understand the issue, you can’t correct it.

  3. Maybe you just need to try again. Some things just naturally have high failure rates, like sales. For some products and services, you might face 100s of failures between successes. There’s no reason to fret, just try again. And again. And again.

  4. Alter your approach. It’s important to keep improving your method. No matter how great you are at something, it can always be better. Take a few minutes each day and adjust your approach.

  5. Look for alternatives. Maybe you need to try a completely new approach. There are often multiple ways around any obstacle. Maybe you can find a better alternative. For example, if you’ve been cold-calling for clients, maybe it would be better to:
    • Cold-email
    • Ask people you know for referrals
    • Show up in person
    • Attend meetups or conventions
    • Send postcards
    • Pass out flyers
    • Send lumpy mail
    • If you’ve thoroughly investigated one method, try another.

  6. Sharpen your axe. Sometimes it’s not about how hard you chop at the trees. It’s about how sharp your axe is. Develop yourself each day. Work on your general sales skills and charisma if those are useful. A chemist might brush up on his knowledge of synthetic organic chemistry.

  7. Work on your coping skills. Figure out the best ways to handle the stress and other negative emotions that commonly accompany failure and setbacks.
    • Keep your options healthy. Calling a friend, exercise, and meditation are examples of acceptable options.
    • Using drugs, alcohol, or food are examples of unhealthy coping strategies.

You can’t succeed if you can’t handle failure. Most of us are far more afraid of failure than we should be. A failed sales call or 30-foot putt isn’t a life and death matter. The most successful people fail more often than they succeed. It’s just part of the game.

One of the best ways to predict your success is to look at your ability to handle failure. Successful people handle failure without any undo fuss. Just learn and keep going.

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