Fail Forward: The Positive Side of Falling Short

Written by Ro Kwun
3 mins read
Published on Aug 16, 2023

Editor’s note: This is an adapted article from Roberta’s blog of reflection and learnings

We’ve all been there, falling face flat in the moment when something in our lives hasn’t gone as expected or hoped. It can be the result of a grand action, or an internal feeling of not achieving our inner most desires for life.

There are many types of failure we can experience. From professional, personal, relational to name a few. From any angle you slice it, the definition of failure denotes that we are “lacking success” in that area of our lives, however we each define success.

It can be a tough pill to swallow, and may take time to get to this conclusion, but can you consider the possibility that failure is actually the best teacher and coach? What is failure but a momentary set back. We’re in control of how long we hold on to it and choose to allow it to taint our perspective or not.

If you relook at failures, they can have a huge upside for our growth and perspective. Here are 5 things you might have missed when you are deep in failure.You Learn Valuable Lessons: The first and most important benefit of failure is the lessons you can learn from it. When you fail, you have the opportunity to take a step back, reflect on what went wrong, and figure out what you can do better next time. 

These insights can be applied to future endeavours and ultimately lead to greater intention and success for your future efforts.

Interestingly, if the Siddhartha did not reflect on his failures of trying way too hard as an ascetic, he would have died of starvation. We would probably never have had a Buddha in this era. His reflection brought him to realise the middle way, avoiding the two extremes of this world.

  • You Develop Resilience: We all know that most success stories are stories of consistency, perseverance and determination. It’s not always easy to keep pushing forward when you’vew experiences failure, but that is half the work. Failure allows you to show up, step up and try again. When you fail, you are forced to learn how to pick yourself up and keep going, even when things get tough. This ability to bounce back from setbacks is called resilience and it’s an essential ingredient in your ability to achieve your goals.
  • You Gain a New Perspective: When you fail, it’s easy to get stuck in a negative mindset and see things as hopeless. But if you choose to embrace failure and look at it from a different angle, you’ll gain a new perspective that can help you see things in a new and possibly innovative light. This new outlook can help you approach challenges with a fresh mindset that you would not have had the opportunity to view in the past. It may help you understand what is important in your life and help to reprioritise.
  • You Build Confidence: Failing something that you set out to do, or something you desired can be a blow to your confidence, but it’s also a great opportunity to build it back up. When you face irrational fears in your mind, tackle challenges, and come out the other side, you’ll gain a newfound internal sense of confidence that can help you tackle any obstacle that comes your way.
  • You Discover Your True Passions: Sometimes we get so caught up in what we think we should be doing that we forget what we actually enjoy. When you fail, you have the chance to reassess your priorities and discover what truly drives you. 
See also  Ep 10 | How to make failure suck less (Ft Heng Teng Teng)

For example, when Venerable Pema Chodron’s marriage failed when she was a lay person. She reevaluated what she truly wanted in life. Her newfound understanding led her to ordain as a Tibetan nun and writing amazing books like ‘When things fall apart

Hence, this newfound understanding of your passions can help you find your true purpose and lead you to a more fulfilling life.

It’s important to remember, failure is not the end. It can be a blip in the road, and an opportunity to reevaluate how we are spending our time and energy. It’s a chance to learn, grow, and become a better version of yourself. You never know, one set back might just give you the ride of a lifetime.

Whatever hardship you are going through, allow yourself to interpret failure as simply part of the journey, not the end of the road.

Author: Ro Kwun

Ro is a curious, compassionate and collaborative individual who has worked in operational and support roles for 10 years in the Tech Industry. She now pursues writing full-time and continues to connect with people to foster the humanity and compassion needed in the modern world through mindfulness sessions and talks.
You can follow her journey and reflections right here

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