5 Steps to Rebound From Failure

Everyone fails. I surely do each and every day. Failure is an inevitable part of life that even the most successful people experience. Walt Disney, for example, was fired from an animation job because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” After his termination, he later drove an animation studio into bankruptcy. Oprah Winfrey was told she was “unfit for television news” and Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. 

While each of these legends experienced failure, they rebounded and turned their mishaps into remarkable success. Today, Walt Disney is known for his imagination, animated films, and famous cartoon characters. Oprah Winfrey is perhaps the most successful talk show host and influential woman in the world. Most people view Michael Jordan as the G.O.A.T.— not just in basketball but in all sports. By changing your perspective on failure, you too can turn your defeat into success.

How To Navigate Failure

Failing doesn’t feel good, which is why people attempt to avoid it at all costs; however, it doesn’t always need to carry a negative connotation. When we experience failure and skillfully navigate it, we can learn more about ourselves, our abilities, and our potential.

After all, many successful people actually feel that it is what they learned through failures that contributed to their ultimate success. Here are five steps to help you navigate your failure:

  1. Promote a learning culture.
    Instilling a learning culture means that employees are encouraged to create, share, and apply new ideas regardless of their outcome to promote individual and organizational success. Organizations should encourage employees to think outside of the box and “fail their way to success.” Those that are best at this, test a variety of prototypes and reward employee collaboration. When organizations don’t promote change, there’s minimal growth potential. In fact, having a learning culture is a hallmark of high-performance organizations, but studies show that only 31% of organizations implemented a learning culture.

  2. Avoid the “blame game.”
    When a company or individual fails, most people focus on “Who did it?” not “What happened.” That’s because people want to protect their reputation. The blame game never works. According to Harvard Business Review, organizations with a culture of blame “have a serious disadvantage when it comes to creativity, learning, innovation, and productive risk-taking.” This also holds true when people place blame on others for their mistakes. By understanding what happened, not whose fault it was, you’ll be able to prevent the same mistake from happening in the future while learning from it.

  3. Instill process improvement plans.
    Process improvement plans are continuous and designed to identify, analyze, and improve existing processes. By instilling this enhancement, your organization can make sure the same failures aren’t happening again and again. The key to implementing a successful process improvement plan is to understand the root cause of failure and success. By doing so, you’ll know how to replicate success and when to modify the existing plan. 

  4. Understand the root cause of a failure.
    Most people don’t try to understand the root cause of a failure because it can degrade their self-esteem. However, if you don’t understand it, you won’t know how to prevent failure in the future. Companies and individuals can understand the root cause of failure through failure analysis. Failure analysis involves learning why something failed, how it failed, and what can be done to prevent it from happening again. In many industries, like healthcare, failure analysis is a critical business strategy.

  5. Don’t dwell on failure.
    You can’t change the past, but you can impact the future. Don’t dwell on a failure; it doesn’t define you and doesn’t limit you from being successful. One person who embodies this mentality is the late Don Shula, legendary NFL coach who has the most regular-season career wins. After each game, he gave his team 24 hours to feel their emotions, whether they won or lost. After those 24 hours lapsed, the team moved on to their next challenge. In a corporate setting, you should celebrate your successes and understand your failures too.

Changing the Paradigm

Rebounding from failure is what differentiates successful individuals, teams, and organizations from unsuccessful individuals, teams, and organizations. I am not trying to undermine failure, just change the perspective of it. When Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb, he said: “I have found 10,000 ways something won’t work. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.” In your business and personal endeavors, don’t be discouraged from failure, it just means you are one step closer to success.