“We learn from failure, not from success!” Although these words presented in Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula seem to be common knowledge, success and failure may be more closely linked. Thus, can we learn from success as well? A recent paper in the journal Psychological Science attempted to answer how to learn from both success and failure.
- How To Learn From Both Success And Failure
How To Learn From Both Success And Failure
Learn from your successes
Do we learn more from studying failures or successes? Obviously, we learn from both, but often we analyze our failures and merely celebrate our successes. But the most valuable lessons may come from studying our successes. Here’s why.
You cannot infer success by studying failure and then inverting it. Of all the different ways to perform a certain task, most of them are wrong. Failure reveals what does not work, but it will not tell what does work. That’s why you cannot learn much by studying failure.
Carefully analyze successes because it is often difficult to determine exactly why something was successful; a cause and effect relationship is hard to establish. For instance, was the workshop you sponsored well-attended because of the topic, the speakers, or because it was held in the Caribbean? When you succeed, create hypotheses about why it may have happened and test them to confirm accurate correlations.
Also, carefully reflect on your early successes because they may mislead you. Po Bronson says, “Failure is hard but success can be far more dangerous. If you’re successful in the wrong thing, the mix of praise and money and opportunity can lock you in forever.”
Learn from your failures
Failure teaches you more than success ever could
Failure means that you actually tried.
You put forth the effort to do something worthwhile. You tried in the best way you knew how. It didn’t work out — so what? Look at what you’ve gained.
Trying and failing have become two of your most important teachers. They can teach you how to walk the path of success. Failure encourages better thinking. It forces you to look back and ask, why didn’t that work? What went wrong?
When you try, you learn. When you fail, you learn even more. Keep trying, and keep failing. You will soon become a very educated student of life.
Failure builds you up
Failure can tear you down. It can make you feel horrible about yourself and about life. It can also build you up in ways you never thought possible if you let it.
First, failure allows you the opportunity to acknowledge and take responsibility for your mistakes. Take responsibility for the part you played in your failure. Stare your monetary losses in the face without cringing. Acknowledge what happened and why you failed.
Success after failure makes you realize just how capable you are
Often, we don’t know what we’re capable of until we try. When you try and fail, despite the failure, you realize just how amazing you truly are and how much you can accomplish.
Failure also builds resilience. Developing a thick skin to tackle life will serve you well. You can do more of what you want and less of what other people think you should do. It allows you to go after your dreams and not let anything get in the way of what you want.
Failing is an art, and it can inspire you if you let it. It can also inspire others around you.
Failure is a chance to learn
Henry Ford is quoted as saying, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Certainly, Edison would agree. You’ve just learned all the wrong ways toward that particular success, as Edison did with his “ten thousand” wrong attempts. Every lesson learned, every failure, is a movement in the right direction.
Attitude about failure can make all the difference
“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm,” said Sir Winston Churchill. England was at a great disadvantage with the advent of World War II. Here is a prime example of tiny David against mighty Goliath. Churchill’s enthusiastic belief in England’s defense was a part of the turning point for that country in the war.