No one wants to fail. In fact, wishing someone failure could cause a great fight and enmity between the two of you. People view it as a curse, a weakness, a sign of incompetency, and a lack. I could remember one of my bosses saying that teachers should do everything possible to make sure that students don’t fail because of the effects it will have on them. Failure is actually a no-no in everybody’s wish list.
Failure can play a lot of tricks on our emotions. It affects our mental, social, psychological, financial and even physical well-being. In this piece, we will look into its effects, advantages and how these effects can be managed.
Reactions to Failures
Before we go into effects of Failure, we need to see some of the ways we react to it.
a. Shock: The first feeling we have whenever we fail is shock. We always want to believe that what we saw or heard isn’t true. Some of us will even wipe our eyes, pinch ourselves or slap our faces to be sure we aren’t dreaming. Well, if the failure is real, welcome on board.
b. Rejection: Yes, that’s the second phase. You will automatically reject the result because you ‘know what you wrote.’ Don’t worry, we all know what we did and are so sure of how good we are. But we still failed. That’s life.
c. Suspicion and Blame: If you are man enough not to suspect foul play and point blaming fingers on the assessors, then I commot cap for you. But if you do, don’t worry, it is a natural thing to do.
d. Excuses: By the time you are done with blaming and suspecting foul play, and nobody believes you, you start making excuses on why you had to fail. This part is what we need to battle because you may end up not correcting whatever that made you fail in the first place.
e. Demonstration: When people feel that their failure wasn’t justified, they react by demonstrating and voicing out their grievances. This can come in various forms. Some people may decide to use the social media to blacklist their assessors; some may take to the streets to announce their grievances; some go to court; and then, some decide to destroy lives and properties. Most of the violence happening today is caused by mismanagement of the effects of failures.
Effects of Failure
As I stated earlier, failure can affect every aspect of our well-being. Below are some of the effects failures can have on us.
i. Anger and Hatred: Depends on who you are transferring these emotions to. If you are angry with yourself for not being good enough, that means you have realised where the problem is coming from, meaning that the solution isn’t farfetched. But if the anger is towards another person or thing, you then need to let go immediately. By the way, never hate yourself or anyone else because you failed.
ii. Despair and Helplessness: Sometimes failure can cause these. A lot of people lose hope when they fail while some see themselves as helpless. The result of these two feelings is self-pity, which the ‘victims’ use as a strategy to obtain understanding, pity and help from people.
iii. Demoralisation: Failure can demoralise people. It can cause people to limit their abilities by making them think they are not good enough to achieve a given task. This can make the person perform even poorer if given the task again or he will give up entirely.
iv. Anxiety: It will be difficult not to be afraid and nervous after failing, especially when facing the same task you flopped before. Mismanaging this fear and its accompanying nervousness can lead to further failures and possible destruction of the person’s ‘fighting spirit’.
Well, we have seen some of the effects failures can have on us. I believe most of us can identify with some, if not all of them. Anyway, we have to move on.
Advantages of Failures
I know a lot of us don’t want to know what is good about failure. But then if we look back into our lives, we can see how our failures and rejections became the propellers that got us to where we are. But, if you are still having difficulties reconciling with yourself because of you failed one or two tasks, make out time to reflect on what you will gain from allowing what life threw at you to lead you.
1. Failure gives us experiences. Do you know why organisations want to recruit people that have on-the-job experiences? Well, it is because they want people that have made mistakes and learnt from them. So, if you don’t fail, you won’t learn because failure is a teacher.
2. Failure sends us on further studies so we can acquire deeper knowledge. When you write a given test and you were told you aren’t good enough, what will you do? You go for further researches and studies, right? So, if you hadn’t failed, how will you have known those things you discovered when you carried out the researches and studies?
3. Failure helps us to improve. You know, when you fail, you have learnt one way something doesn’t work. This means you have to work on yourself, acquire more skills, create new ideas and do whatever you need to make sure you keep abreast of the current situation of things.
4. Failure teaches us humility. This function of failure is so strong. Start now to pay attention to people who feel they have it all worked out. No one will tell you they haven’t yet encountered failure because it will show in their character. I believe we know how humility can help us achieve success in life.
5. Failure teaches us humanity. This is so true. If you are lucky to have a boss or a mentor who has tasted failure, you will notice that they are more understanding and approachable. They can tolerate your own mistakes and patiently show you how to improve.
6. Failure teaches us to take things serious. Have you ever failed because you took the task for granted? Well that happens to me a lot. And whenever I fail because I was unserious, I always sit up in the next task. I sometimes tell myself that if I was able to scale through the task despite my laxity, maybe I will fail in a more serious task that will cost me so much.
7. Failure helps us to build better networks. This is very true. Failing usually means that either we don’t know or understand the task, or we are not good enough to perform it. In other words, we need people that will help us out. So, when we fail, we look for better contacts that can help us gain more knowledge and we drop those that are drawing us back.
We know it is not easy to accept that we are not good enough. The effects are involuntary and can cause more problems if not well handled. It takes knowledge and matured mind to be able to manage the effects and fears of further failure.
How to Manage the Effects of Failure
1. Willpower: You need to be strong so you can get up, dust yourself up and move on. You have to remember that no one will do this for you except you. Tell yourself it is ok to fail because you have found one way to fail and you are not going to take that path again.
2. Listen to Other’s Life Story: Someone once told me to read and listen to people’s success stories because their pains, joys, failures and strategies are embedded there. It will be good for you to read up the success stories of people you admire. This will help you realise that they too have failed but did not allow themselves to be weighed down by it.
3. Objective Assessment: One thing that works for me after failing is to find out why I failed. One of the ways I do this is by evaluating myself objectively to find out where I didn’t do well. To do this, I put myself in the position of the assessor and grade myself. I always come out with a better result after this. And believe me when I say that I never fail again when I go back to re-perform the task.
4. Ask Questions: When you don’t really understand why you failed, be humble enough to ask for the reasons you didn’t meet up. When the assessor truly sees that you asked because you wanted to improve, you will get the required answers.
5. Self Improvement: Finding out what the problem is isn’t enough. You need to work on yourself. Find out where you didn’t do well and improve on it.
6. Be in Control: Don’t allow anxiety to take the better part of you. It is ok to feel anxious when performing another task but try to be in control of your emotions so they don’t make things worse.
7. Keep Busy: In some cases, we need to keep ourselves busy so we don’t have to think so much about our failures. For example, if you failed an employment exam, don’t stop to lament about that, keep yourself busy preparing for other exams. But remember to follow step 1 – 6 above.
8. Stay Positive: Kindly stay away from negative people, who tell you how bad and corrupt the system is. Please, don’t blame anyone for your failure and don’t look for reasons to be angry because of it. Stay positive and learn from the lessons life is throwing at you.
Remember, life isn’t fair to anyone. Take whatever it throws your way and turn it to your advantage.