Resilience – View Failure as a Learning Opportunity

The clash between success and failure starts in an individual’s early stages of life. For example, parents often encourage their kids to explore several extracurricular activities – music, sports, dance, theatrics, and more during childhood or adolescence. Not everyone succeeds at everything. The societal outlook towards failure is conservative and mostly looked down upon. The same learning is taught in our DNAs as we grow – getting top grades at school, securing a place in the top university, and finding the job that everyone’s jealous of. Everything away from all of that is considered a failure. To be fair, an individual shouldn’t be expected to ace it all. And that is where the importance of viewing failure as a learning opportunity comes into the picture.

Facing failure can sometimes leave people with a pessimistic approach and reduce their drive to succeed in the future. As a coach, there is one thing that I have observed among leaders who have learned from their failures — they are the ones whose second or third attempt is stronger and more fierce than ever. Those who bounce back after a failure look at it from a different perspective – as a stepping stone to their road to success or a minor speedbreaker on their journey.

The wisdom gained from failure is unparalleled. Not just individuals but organisations that do it well are rare. It is not a lack of commitment. In my experience, managers want to help their organisations learn from past mistakes. There was no real change despite the hours put into changing its course. And it is because of one simple reason – the mindset. Their fear of failing again is so high that they repeat their mistakes. The way they look at their failure can be misperceived.

I have learned several things from working with leaders from different industries. However, it is essential to know that not all strategies work for everyone. Don’t be afraid to try, test, fail, and find your way to view failure differently.

Here are the top ways that might help you:

  • Celebrate failures like you would for your success:

Sometimes you adopt strategies that do not work. Don’t be afraid to open them up and showcase them to those who were or could be involved. Discuss them, gather opinions on the strategies, find ways you could have done better, and let them go. Instead of holding on to them as failures, look at them as something you tried but did not work out. 

  • Don’t give up after a setback

This applies to both the personal and professional aspects. Setbacks are a part of your journey. They make you who you are. Giving up is easy, but sticking to find a way out is challenging yet rewarding. There is always light at the end of the tunnel. All you need to do is look for it. Setbacks can also be used to analyse what went wrong in the first place and understand how you could have done things differently. 

  • Look at how the failure could have been a gift.

When you look at failure as an opportunity to present itself as a gift, you can turn the situation around and find more beneficial and alternative solutions. This also helps open up your mind and be creative. Creativity is the new-age requirement for all businesses today. It can help you become a better professional and an individual. 

  • Shift the mindset from performance to purpose.

We all know about performance pressure. And that can be difficult to deal with. I have seen great managers perform poorly when they have a lot of pressure. Here, you can switch your point of view. You can think of your task as a purpose. What is it that you are trying to achieve? Why are you doing what you are doing? What does your organisation think is the purpose? Finding answers to questions like that can help you go a long way in changing your perspective toward failure. 

  • See failures as a critical step to progress.

“Practice makes a man perfect.” Thinking of failure as nothing but a key step towards becoming better at your job has been seen to help leaders grow. For example, if you are a musician, during your practice years, you must have skipped so many beats, failed to match the timing with the other instrument during your performance, even been on the verge of giving up. But a “never give up” attitude is what leads to perfection. In most cases, failure is inevitable, and acknowledging it helps you embrace failures. 

  • Find the courage to start afresh.

The best example of this is Steve Jobs. When he was fired from Apple, instead of giving up on his lifelong dreams, he saw it as an opportunity to begin again. After founding NeXT and being acquired by Apple, he became the CEO again. Since then, he is not just synonymous with Apple but has inspired generations of entrepreneurs. In my coaching journey, I have always encouraged the leaders who work with me to find inspiration and start afresh. 

Top Things That Failure Can Teach You

Nobody, and I mean nobody, ever felt good after failing. It can truly disrupt the zeal you have been working on with. But then, there is so much that failure teaches us. My experience of my own life and while working with other leaders, I have learned failure to teach us these things:

  • Resilience:

    If you are determined to overcome the speed breaker, it is hard to not learn about resilience after a failure. It is an important skill for both the personal and the professional aspects. Building resilience helps you shape your growth mindset. It can help you adopt the right behaviors to overcome change. It can help you with the much-needed determination. 


  • Humility

    No matter what we say, there is always one part of our personality that consists of the ego. As a leader, I have always tried to help leaders work on setting their ego aside, especially when dealing with failure. Because I believe ego can get the better of us. A healthy dose of failure has often been shown to be good for the ego. It helps in calming down and helps us build an important characteristic of humility.


  • Flexibility:

    Even the finest plans can be disrupted because of a failure. It is easy to get caught in a rut and become rigid over the years. We live in a world where change is the only constant and the only way we can ever be at par is by being flexible. You could have set a goal that was too unrealistic. Only a failure can help you determine that. Failure teaches to be flexible, and adaptable and change ourselves as the situation demands. It helps adopt a growth mindset. 


  • Motivation:

    Our failures can play the role of a motivator more often than we think. When you have made mistakes along the way and have still succeeded after more than one attempt, it helps you see failure as the motivation to do something big and achieve your goals. 

To have more conversations – Write to me at [email protected]



Leave a Reply