Let’s talk failures

Yes, you read it right. It is time we speak of our failures. What is there to be ashamed of? Do we always have to harp upon our successes? 

If you notice, job interviews today are not just about your accomplishments and achievements. It is also about your failures. Failures, after all, are the next step towards success.

It’s ironic how failure is viewed contextually. When a toddler learns to stand and trips a number of times before he/she is able to stand on his/her own, everyone goes ga-ga and encourages the toddler to try again and again, because we all know that that child will not let that failure deter him/her. So, if failure and trying to succeed is so ingrained within us since childhood, why do we have a hard time accepting the same as we grow up and learn to navigate our way personally and professionally? 

It is time we have a re-look at failures and learn to look at them as opportunities to chartering new journeys.

Here are my 5 quick mantras that have helped me navigate my way through failures. I hope some things resonate with you. If they do, do reach out to me and share.

  • Wallow. Cry. Stay depressed

Okay, so when failure hits us hard, don’t most of us wallow? Cry our hearts out? Stay locked in our rooms and have a low mood for hours/days? Go ahead, wallow and cry. It is all good for the system. Let the tears wash away the anguish and the temporary feeling of low self-worthiness that you feel. You are not expected to be chirpy all the time. Once the tears have dried and the heart unburdened, take a deep breath. And let’s prepare for recovery.

  • Don’t look back

Who has not looked back at what went wrong? What if I had done this instead of that? What if I had handled the situation better? What if I had not said what I had said? Well, you are not going to get any outcome from the retrace here. How about looking ahead instead? That incident is over, what is next? How do I pick myself up? Here is an opportunity to choose a new path. Follow that.

  • Seek guidance

So, not just about everyone is able to dissect a situation, remove the mud and dust oneself squeaky clean for another situation in life. Some of us may need to reach out to others for guidance and help. Do you have a mentor? Do you have someone in whom you can confide? Someone who does not judge you but is able to see things objectively? If so, you are the lucky one. Go seek that mentor/friend/guide and relook at the situation at hand, not the past.

  • Take a walk

Take a walk. Literally. Move out of the room. Change the surroundings and see your mood change. Why do we go to the movies or read a book or even chat with friends? It is primarily to change our mood. When failure hits you, change the sad mood by changing your immediate setting. 

  • Look ahead

With the tears dried, heart beat back to normal, head clear, walk done and guidance given it is time to look ahead. Think of the situation at hand and then think of your own reaction to that current situation. What if you shift your reaction slightly? You will notice the environment changing. Avoid getting swayed by externals. In the end it all comes down to one person and that is: you.

What matters is you have the courage and fortitude to pick yourself from failures and see them as new opportunities for growth. If there is no failure, there is no growth. Next time you are interviewed for a job, speak proudly of your failures. Wear them on your sleeve.

You can conquer the world with your failures.

Sarita Bahl
Country Group Head Communications & Public Affairs (CPA) at Bayer - South Asia
Over her three decades of professional experience, Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, trade associations, MNCs and the not-for-profit.
An alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Science and the Swedish Institute of Management Program, Sarita specialises in stakeholder engagement, sustainability and communications.
She is passionate about animals, books and movies.

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