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Learn from your failures to succeed

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Many people at the top of their professions have faced setbacks on the way

What a difference a year makes. Just over a year ago, Andy Murray cried as he gave his speech after losing the final at Wimbledon to Roger Federer. A few weeks later he beat the same player he lost to at the All England Club, on the same court to win an Olympic Gold medal. Fifty-two weeks later he lifted the Wimbledon trophy, becoming the first male British player to win Wimbledon in 77 years - and he won in straight sets. How can you learn from Mr Murray’s experience and turn your failures into successes?

The key is to learn from failure. Within every failure there lies an opportunity for you to turn some element of it into a success.

No doubt failure is not a pleasurable experience especially when it is public.

Working within the NHS, especially where lives are involved, can make it difficult to embrace failure. However, failure has its benefits. In fact, you learn more from failing than by succeeding.

According to best-selling author JK Rowling “it is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default”.

So if you fail at something, reframe failure. Look at your failures as an indication that you are breaking new ground.

Have you made a mistake at work such as a drug error? Rather than blaming yourself or others, why not openly admit it and reflect on what happened with a view to learning from it. Or have you failed in getting the job you dreamed about? Instead of beating yourself up, ask yourself what you could learn from the interview that you could use in your next one. Be speedy about moving on as the next job opportunity may be around the corner.

Another benefit of failure is that it often brings to birth innovation. Thomas Edison, the creator of the lightbulb, failed more than 10,000 times. In fact, most successful people fail often. But they don’t give up. You too should keep trying until you succeed. After a failure, go back to the drawing board, regroup and reflect and then try new things. View stumbling blocks as stepping stones. Periodically, look back and see how you’ve grown by learning from your failures. Experience is the best teacher. Therefore, allow yourself to learn the lessons that come with experience, including failures.

Fear of failure is stifling and limiting. Never allow fear of failing to lead to inaction. So, next time you have a setback, rather than give up, embrace failure. Review the steps you took leading up to the failure, and very often you will see hidden opportunities.


Benefits of embracing failure

  • Brings to birth innovation and creative ideas
  • Leads to future successes
  • Increases knowledge
  • Helps develop resilience and tenacity
  • Continuous growth
  • Opens up opportunities for growth
  • Demonstrates that you are trying different things
  • Allows you time to reflect and consider how to things differently

Ruth Oshikanlu is a nurse, midwife and practising health visitor in London. A coach and managing director of Goal Mind, she also works with individuals to analyse their key motivators, and coach them to perform at their best. She is also a Queen’s Nurse

  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • it is a good idea to get as much feedback as possible from failures and ask for it from job interviews.
    I failed to do this on my job interview and in view of my age and other factors didn't manage to get another job despite a huge number of applications and good CV and loads of varied experience.

    Previously I had always been far more successful and fortunate at interviews and getting the jobs i went after when I was younger but times and the labour market has changed and instead of kicking myself for my failures I would have done far better to put my pride in my pocket and request this feedback and learn from it even though some of it may hurt.

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