What is life like after failure

Failure at work: how to deal with defeat correctly

Only he who dares wins. But anyone who dares can, as is well known, fail. Failure is an inevitable part of life, and at work, too, you often have to suffer one, two or countless defeats before you can achieve your goals. If you want to be successful, you have to take risks. The question should therefore not be “how can you prevent defeat” but rather “how do you deal with it properly”?

1. Failure at work is not a shame, but an opportunity
2. "Clever failure" - that's how it works
3. Tip 1: Take the failure into account
4. Tip 2: Recognize defeat and let go
5. Tip 3: Withdraw power from defeat
6. Tip 4: Never take failure personally
7. Tip 5: Forgive yourself and let go of negative emotions
8. Tip 6: First reflection, then reaction!
9. Tip 7: Trial and Error
10. Tip 8: Get rid of the judgments of others
11. Tip 9: Constructive feedback for new solutions
12. Tip 10: The five supporting pillars to overcome defeat

Failure at work isn't a shame, it's an opportunity

In the USA this way of dealing with defeat is already more widespread than in Germany. This is particularly noticeable in the fact that more startups are springing up in percentage terms compared to Germany. The risk is already factored in and the "founders" are well aware that many business ideas have to fail before the big success comes. In the American founding company, it is therefore common practice for successful entrepreneurs to fail with one, two or even three startups, dust off the dust and start over. Failure is not seen as a horror scenario, which must be avoided at all costs, but on the contrary as the only correct path to success, because it is well known that one learns from mistakes.

"Failure is a detour, not a dead end."
(Zig Ziglar)

An attitude from which German society should learn a slice. In this country, failure is often seen as the ultimate failure. It is imperative to avoid defeat, the risks are avoided from the outset and should it happen, those affected are deeply ashamed.

“When one door closes, another opens;
but we usually look at the closed door with regret for so long,
that we do not see the one who has opened up for us. "
(Alexander Graham Bell)

On the one hand, this applies to the German founding company. The word "business start-up" alone is unfortunate, as it suggests that failure would also mean the end of existence. On the other hand, there is also a culture of fear of failure in the white-collar sector in Germany. But why actually? To conclude with yet another quote:

"From the ruins of our despair we build our character."
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

In fact, experts see failure as an opportunity to learn from past mistakes, To develop personally and thereby become professionally (as well as privately) successful, instead of crawling into a standstill out of sheer fear of risk. While standing still means the end of a career, defeat can lead to important turns and further developments in professional life and thus directly to the top of the career ladder.

It is therefore important to find the “right” attitude, says Petra Walther. In the magazine managerSeminare she had summarized the tips of the psychotherapist Irmtraud Tarr, the systemic advisor Ulrike Ley and the head of the agency for clever failure Hans-Jürgen Stöhr in a “curriculum for clever failure”. We report and add:

Clever failure - this is how it works:

Tip 1: Take the failure into account

No matter how hard you try to be on the safe side: Failures are a part of life and will never allow themselves to be prevented entirely. Isn't it then perhaps better, instead of trying to prevent defeats, to factor them in directly and thus take the horror away from them? Success-oriented people, who are also aware of the possibility of failure and who develop a fear-free approach to it, are ultimately also those who will really achieve their goals. And should they fail, they are in a position to put up with this bankruptcy better, to learn important lessons for the future and ultimately to achieve success.

If, on the other hand, you let yourself be driven by the fear of failure and focus on it in all your decisions and actions, you will be magically attracted by the principle of “self-fulfilling prophecy”.

Excursus: The "self-fulfilling prophecy"

The "self-fulfilling prophecy" is a sociological mechanism according to Robert K. Merton, according to which a person, through his own behavior, induces a previously prophesied behavior in his counterpart. It is a completely unconscious interplay. So if you assume in advance that you will fail, there is a high probability that the mechanism of self-fulfilling prophecy will also ensure that defeat actually occurs. Those affected then usually tend to "I-knew-it-before" attitudeinstead of admitting to themselves that through their prophecy, that is, their own behavior, they were responsible for the course of events. Just keep your eyes open and observe the scenario in your environment: Both in your professional and private life, the self-fulfilling prophecy can be observed frighteningly often.

Tip 2: Recognize defeat and let go

Once the ship has sunk, any fight is in vain anyway. Therefore, learn to recognize failure at an early stage and to let go of it so that you do not waste time, nerves, energy or money unnecessarily to salvage a wreck that has already been lost. Instead, focus your attention on the next steps in order to process the failure as quickly as possible, draw the right conclusions from it, and move on to new goals.

Tip 3: Withdraw power from defeat

You are familiar with this mechanism from everyday life: the clatter of the keyboard of your desk neighbor or a colleague who is always on the phone much too loudly only gets on your nerves like hell if you concentrate on it. It is similar when dealing with failure: The more meaning you give this experience, the more power it will have over your life. So instead of grieving, accept defeat. Stand up again, pat the dust off your clothes, and try to calm yourself down to this experience.

Tip 4: Never take failure personally

The best way to develop this serenity is to learn to distinguish between the personal and the factual level. The fact that you have failed professionally does not mean that you are a failure, that you do not have the necessary talents, or that you are even stupid. On the contrary: Many of the most successful people in the world have failed once in their lives before they found the right path. Don't you believe us?

Even the most powerful man on Wall Street, Laurence Fink, who now has an estimated $ 2.25 trillion with his company "Black Rock", made devastatingly false interest rate predictions after graduating as a trader and was lost due to a loss of $ 100 million terminated by the investment bank "First Boston". But that's not all: his reputation as a trader was so ruined that he should not find a new job for the time being. At that time, however, giving up was out of the question for Fink. Instead, he learned from his mistakes, which gave him a decisive advantage over his competitors in the global economic crisis in 2007 and created what is now the largest asset management company in the world.

Sometimes you may have made a mistake, other times you may just have been unlucky. The fact is, however, that your defeat never means personal failure, it was a result of circumstances. In retrospect, it was often an important lesson or the decisive turning point in life for which you will sooner or later be grateful. If Laurence Fink hadn't miscalculated back then, he might never have started his own business. So who knows what deeper meaning your defeat will have in retrospect? Believe in yourself and (re) build your self-confidence in a targeted manner!

Tip 5: forgive yourself and let go of negative emotions

By now you should be at the point where you can let go of anger, frustration or even shame about your failure. Forgive yourself and don't dwell on unnecessary self-doubt or anger over wasted time and energy. Anyone who struggles with the past in a continuous loop will never be open to the present or a new future. Don't let the experience of defeat break you, step in stronger and better than ever like before Phoenix from the ashes up. But it is not yet time to look forward again. Instead, go to the factual level, take two steps back and look at your failure from an objective perspective and with the necessary emotional distance.

Tip 6: first reflection, then reaction!

Now that you have let go of all the negative feelings about your defeat, you can finally reflect on what happened and learn the necessary lessons from it. Before you move on to new goals, you should learn from your mistakesso as not to repeat this in the future. This is the only way to turn failure into an opportunity. Otherwise you will find yourself in a hamster wheel made of the same mistakes and failures. So ask yourself:

  • What went wrong?
  • What mistakes did I make?
  • What could I have done better?
  • What lessons can I learn from this for the future?
  • To what extent were factors to blame for the failure that I could not influence or which I will not be able to influence in the future?
  • How have other people dealt with similar defeats and what can I learn from them?

As already mentioned: Defeat can turn into a life changing opportunitybut only if you learn the right lessons from it. After all, a mistake is only a mistake if you make it twice. The first time you just didn't know any better - and that's okay!

Tip 7: trial and error

In order to finally see failure as an opportunity, you should understand the basic principle of human learning: How did you learn to walk? Didn't you get up, fall down, get up again, and fall down again - until it worked? The “trial and error” method, also known as “trial and error”, is just as old as humanity itself. So why is it not allowed in a job to develop further through failure and learning and slowly approach success ?

At that time, Thomas Edison is said to have required around 10,000 attempts before the lightbulb shone in bright light. He didn't let that discourage him. On the contrary: "I have found 10,000 ways something won't work. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward, ”he is supposed to have said at the time. By teaching how something doesn't work, you slowly but surely feel your way towards the right path. This is probably the most important insight that you should call back to your mind again and again when you operate a light switch.

Personal development always involves trial and error. Errors and crises are part of learning and should be seen as a challenge that also offers new opportunities. Only those who experience that they can master unpleasant situations can gain self-confidence for the future.

Tip 8: get rid of the judgments of others

Speaking of self-confidence: you are not always your greatest critic yourself, but of course there is also criticism from outside sometimes. It is quite possible that your defeat also has consequences for your colleagues, the supervisor, your own employees or even the family. The fact is, however, that you did not fail on purpose and therefore nobody can blame you. Constructive criticism or advice from outsiders who have already been in your situation can be very helpful. Otherwise, the following applies: one ear in and the other out again.

If you no longer always strive for the recognition of your social environment, but instead concentrate more on yourself from now on, defeat suddenly loses its horror. Ask yourself: Would I still find my failure this bad if nobody but me knew about it? Probably not! As you can see, it is usually not even the failure itself that is the real problem, but the judgment of those around you. So learn to separate these two components and you have made a big step towards a self-determined life. Congratulations!

Tip 9: constructive feedback for new solutions

Finding the right social environment is therefore an important factor for your success. After all, you don't want to be criticized or judged for your failure, but what you need now are people who will give you constructive feedback and help you find the right path again. A failure cannot be reversed, but it can be used for the better. After failure it is therefore important to look for alternatives - preferably together with people who have a neutral view of the matter and support you. So create the right social framework for your new start and look for new solutions to old problems together.

Tip 10: the five supporting pillars to overcome defeat

According to Dan Miller, the right social environment is only the first of five pillars that can help you get back on your feet after a failure. Therefore, internalize the following principles for your new start:

  1. Find a positive environmentin which you receive constructive feedback, but do not encounter constant criticism. Whether in your private or professional life: Spend your time with cheerleaders instead of doubters.
  2. Be true to your morals and values. If you give up your integrity, gamble unfairly, break the boundaries of legality, or get caught up in a growing web of lies and overconfidence, you will not only fail at some point, but you will also put your entire credibility and reputation at risk. And then a defeat is under certain circumstances much more devastating than if you carry it with dignity, with honesty, criticism and modesty.
  3. Set clear goals for your new startwho like to set high, but are still realistic. Focus on your talents and strengths. The clearer you can see the way, the fewer obstacles will make your life difficult.
  4. Health is the be-all and end-allin order to remain productive in your job and overcome defeats. Exercise regularly, eat healthily, and get enough sleep. You will soon notice how energy, creativity and self-confidence increase (again).
  5. In the end all you really need is an iron will and the conviction that you can put up with any defeat. The more you can trust in fate that your failure serves a deeper purpose and that life has an even better plan in store for you, the more serene and successful you will be.

Which defeats have you already suffered in your professional life and how did you deal with these failures? What tips do you have for our readers on “failing well”? We look forward to your contributions in the comments.

Photo credit: FunnyVectorForYou / Shutterstock.com


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