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The ‘F’ Word No One Actually Wants to Talk About: Failure

There I said it! The “F” word, the biggest fear, the ‘Shhhh don’t talk about it’, the not so important topic, none other than FAILURE!

I am guilty too!

You can’t let your failures define you. You have to let your failures teach you.

Barack Obama

Let’s be honest we all have experienced Failure at one point or the other in our lives. Whether it is School, our business or just life in general. More often than not our reaction is “I don’t want to talk about it”, “I don’t even want to think about it”, “I don’t want to remember that” and such…

The 'F' Word No One Actually Wants to Talk About: Failure
The ‘F’ Word No One Actually Wants to Talk About: Failure

And there can be another scenario where you don’t want to talk about it but still you can’t get over it, you are so hung up on it that sub consciously you keep repeating it in your mind again and again, going through the unwanted torture.

Let’s also discuss a third scenario, I like to call this “Delusional Failure”, something you create in your own mind by your own self, thinking you are not good enough or when you are dealing with imposter syndrome. This can be the most dangerous one, especially for a Creative.

Does this sound relatable?

There are no failures–just experiences and your reactions to them.

Tom Krause

I have been though it many a times and I have tortured myself for years with constant negative self talk!

More Failed Paintings
More Failed Paintings

Until finally I learned it the hard way! All thanks to my Mentors who taught me to see it differently! A total mindset shift! Phew…!

Was it easy? You might be wondering! No it was NOT! Not at ALL!

Did I do it in just a day or week, NO!

It took me months of constant pondering, multiple failures, learning not to stop or give up, but it finally happened and now there is no going back.

Curious why we should talk about it? How to deal with it? Strategies that actually work? Then keep reading till the end!

My box of learnings: I keep all my failed works
My box of learnings: I keep all my failed works

Why we should talk about Failure?

It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.

Bill Gates

This quote sums it up very beautifully! Failures teach us a lot!

3 Things you should know

  • Failure is unavoidable

Whether you like it or not, no matter who you are, at some point or the other you will face Failure. So be ready for it. Look at he example of all successful people out there from Henry ford to Oprah to Steve Jobs, if you know their story, you will understand this better that failures are a part of our journey, just the bitter ones, but still full of nutrients like the bitter gourd…sorry about the weird reference!

As an Artist you will find people, who will love your Art like crazy and some who will hate it like anything. That’s totally out of your control. That doesn’t mean you have failed as an Artist, take this in a positive way too. Learn to deal with it. That’s the only way to move on.

Here is the good news- Failure is temporary, it is just a stepping stone.

  • It is not Bad

That’s right, it is actually good. It teaches you so much if you are open to learning! don’t worry, it is okay to feel sad an bad about it, but it is important to take away the learnings and move on as soon as possible.

  • Dont fear it

Failure is inevitable but don’t let that stop you in any way. Never let it stop you from trying again and again. It is just a part of your journey.

As an Artist or a Creative you can face failures in many forms, like a failed product launch, failed Projects or paintings, loss of money, bad reviews, a tough customer or student, no sales and so on.

How to deal with it?

One who fears failure limits his activities.

Henry Ford

6 Easy Steps to deal with Failure

1. Acknowledge

Take your time to overcome it. I am not saying start jumping with joy when you fail! No one can do that, we are humans and it sucks! I know, been there many times!

Learn to handle failure in a positive way. I know it is easy to say, when you are feeling sad, angry, frustrated and drained or embarrassed, how is it possible to just move on and accept it. Take your time, but set a limit to it. As you have to be ready for the next step a soon as possible. What is this time limit is entirely up to you and what goals you have set for yourself. If you are working for a five year goal you can take a month maybe to recover, but if your target is 1 year, there is no time to waste! So be mindful about that.

2. Accept

Practice self compassion, instead of being harsh on yourself, be a little warm and caring. Like something you would do for a friend if they were in this situation. Nobody is perfect!

3. Analyze Learnings

Use you failure as an opportunity to grow, you are not alone, what went wrong, what you can do differently next time. Make it a stepping stone not a stopping stone.

4. Create a New Plan

Learn to move on and have a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset. For example, don’t think that what is the use of trying if you keep on failing etc., instead focus on learning form failures, believe that you can do it, don’t worry about the result. Make a new plan with a fresh mindset and start working on it.

5. Believe in Yourself

Trust your instincts and believe in your efforts, do affirmations and give yourself reassurance that you are capable of achieving your goals.

6. Take action

Don’t overthink just take the needed action as per the new plan.

7. Count Your Blessings – Bonus!

As always here is a bonus tip, always remember your past wins and how far you have come, see the progress you have made at both personal and professional level. Don’t forget the small things, it can be even as basic as access to natural light or a quiet place to work, or you have a phone and laptop, a group of peers that help you, maybe a car that eases your work, anything! When we count our blessings we open the way to receiving more of them! so always be thankful and grateful!

Try reading this book, to overcome self doubt, it is full of inspiring stories that will keep you realistic and motivated.

A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.

John C. Maxwell

Until next time,

The ‘F’ Word No One Actually Wants to Talk About: Failure