Bounce back from failure with these 5 reliable practices

It is an all-consuming feeling: You’ve mustered up hope, confidence, and everything within you to take a leap and try something great. But you fell short. You failed. Your heart has dropped into your stomach and left you with an overwhelming sense of shame, disappointment, frustration, and defeat. Can there ever be a way to bounce back from failure? It might not feel like it right now, but the answer is YES, of course, there is.

Facing The Fear of Failure

bounce back from failure

Let’s put our bravado aside for a second, so we can be honest. It’s okay to fail – we’ve all done it. And yet, the social stigma of failure is so sticky, it seems impossible to shake off. Success is so highly praised, and others often don’t see the hard work and misses that happened to get there. And so, we applaud the success, and pull shade over the failures.

But this has come with a danger. It’s taught us to believe we must achieve without falling. And yet, we know that failure is found on the road to success. We know that we cannot achieve until we’ve learnt how to bounce back from failure.

Eloise Ristad is a talented author who so powerfully said,

“When we give ourselves permission to fail, we, at the same time, give ourselves permission to excel.”

It is important you face your shortfalls head-on. And when you do look them in the eyes, you will find an undiscovered treasure waiting for you.

Own It And Find Meaning

Susan Howatch is another incredible author. In her book Absolute Truths, she makes a showstopping statement:

“In the end, every major disaster, every tiny error, every wrong turning, all the blood, sweat, and tears, everything has meaning. I reuse, reshape, recast what goes wrong.”

I understand that sometimes, it can take an extensive amount of refining, reshaping, and reusing in order to find meaning. But it’s in there. Often time is needed to unveil it.

Where to start? Kick it off with some good power questions:

  • What went well?
  • What didn’t go well?
  • Is there something I need to do differently next time?
  • What do I need to take ownership of?
  • Do I need to let go of something?
  • Am I telling myself untruths?
  • What unexpected positive came of this?

It’s important to move past shame as quickly as you can. Nothing good comes from staying in that ditch. Brene Brown is a professor, lecturer, author, and podcast host who has done an extensive amount of research on the negative repercussions of shame. In fact, if there were anyone I’d want to hear from on this subject, it would be her. Here’s what she has to say on the matter:

“We desperately don’t want to experience shame, and we’re not willing to talk about it. Yet the only way to resolve shame is to talk about it. Maybe we’re afraid of topics like love and shame. Most of us like safety, certainty, and clarity. Shame and love are grounded in vulnerability and tenderness.”

Take ownership of your feelings and actions. Face them, embrace them, sit with them for a bit, and then move through them. This is the first step to bouncing back from failure.

bounce back from failure

Dig into Your Support Structure

Talk to trusted advisors, gain insight, reflect, be vulnerable, and gain perspective. As soon as you start to become vulnerable, you’ll see that you’re not alone. That colleague who appears so well put together has faced a number of failures. So has your CEO, friend, and family member.

Sometimes you may find that a mentor is your biggest asset for moving forward. If
this is the case, be sure to choose them wisely and be transparent about what you’re

asking them to do for you. Demonstrate your seriousness to work hard and take their advice to heart, so that the mentor knows you’re not wasting their time.

You might say something like, “I deeply value your insight and opinion and the road you’ve walked inspires me. I feel like the best thing for me to do right now, is to find a mentor to help me learn and progress and bounce back from this failure. Would you be open to becoming my mentor?”

Reconnect to Your Unique Path

Remember that great childrens movie called Spirit, about the wild stallion who was captured? In this movie, they tried everything to break the stallion in and make him forget his wild, roaming roots. But the horse refuses, holding sternly onto his free spirit and eventually making it back to the place he belongs. His purpose is what drives him, far beyond the challenges that come his way.

When you connect to your unique path, comparison fades away, and your purpose takes centre stage. Now, it’s as if you’ve guided your vision to focus on that which matters most. Your unique path.

When you’ve been shaken and need to bounce back from failure, you’ll need to reflect on your path and make sure you aren’t wandering from it. Looking back on what’s happened and forward to your purpose, remind yourself why you’re doing this in the first place. Does it feel like your actions are aligned to this purpose? Does it still feel worthwhile to try again?

What if the answer to these questions is NO? what if you need to call it quits on this specific venture, and raise the white flag? It’s important to know when to persist, and when to quit …both are equally as powerful. If you choose to persist, spend time clarifying the specific behaviours, actions, attitudes or principles that have not been helpful and need shifting. Then focus on these. If you decide it’s time to put down the sword and surrender, it’s important to move through the process and make sure you use everything, so it has meaning. And remember, just because this venture ended, doesn’t mean you can’t start another.

What's The Next Best Step?

After brewing and moving through your initial emotions, it’s important not to get stuck. You need to take a step and make a start, no matter how small.

You’ve taken the time to process your initial emotions. You’ve invited people in to support you, and you’ve pondered on whether what you’re trying to achieve is authentic to your values. Now, you need to ask, “what’s the next best step?” We’re not looking for giant leaps and bounds. Just for the next foot forward. The power of making a start is that it triggers forward motion. Once you’ve taken that step, just focus on the next one. Before you know it, you’ll be flying.

bounce back from failure

Know The Hard Part

After facing failure, you’re likely more prepared for the hard part now than you were before. It’s important to know what the hard part is because anything with great meaning has one. By knowing the hard part, you empower yourself. You place the decision in your hand as to whether it’s worth enduring or turning around.

You know failure has happened, and it’s bound to happen again. So, don’t be surprised when it does! Instead, use your experience to inform what approach you need to take. And use every failure, big or small, to shine light on your next action. When we know that failure is eminent, that it’s not a bad thing, and that hard parts are to come, we have given ourselves a better chance of success in the long run.

Here are the 5 steps you can take to bounce back from failure

  • Take ownership and find meaning
  • Dig into your support structure
  • Reconnect with your unique path and purpose
  • Clarify the next best step
  • Know the hard part. Don’t be surprised by it

And remember, shift happens...eventually

Nothing lasts forever. The storm will eventually pass. And if you or your team are struggling to bounce back from failure, you don’t need to walk this path alone. You can let CAFE Life be your experienced guide and mentor in moving you through change management, team effectiveness, and creating a thriving work culture.

Remember your unique path and authenticity through all of this. What value are you adding to the world by doing this? What is your purpose driven goal? Whenever you feel shaken, simply return to this, reminding yourself of your reasons to believe, and your unique path. There is no shame in failure. If you failed in trying to do something great, it represents a bravery far beyond those who never tried anything at all.

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