6 Steps for Moving Through Failure

1. Accept the failure.

Verbalize it, say the thing you did out loud. Verbalize the consequence and impact of the failure.

2. Stop calling it a failure.

Change the way you speak and think about your “failure”. Understand that a failure is simply a less than stellar result. You took an action and got a suboptimal result. Let’s call it that.

3. Choose whatever happened.

Make the choice to fully accept what actually happened. Choose the facts of the suboptimal result. Proactively choosing the suboptimal result, as in “I choose the results I got” empowers you to move forward from it without being caught in a place of regret or remorse — you are not stuck in the past once you fully choose what happened. You don’t have to like what happened, you don’t have to think it was the best possible way things could have happened, but you do have to choose it if you want to be free from the psychological drag it creates.

4. Visualize what you want to do differently next time.

Verbalize that vision. What will you do next time and what different impact will your new actions have?

5. Take any available corrective actions.

If any immediate steps are available to remediate the impact of the suboptimal result, take them. This might be an apology, a change of plan or direction, or other corrective action. Often all you can do is acknowledge the misstep with others, tell them what happened, discuss its impact and what you plan to do differently next time.

6. Finally, let it go.

Be prepared to move forward and don’t drag the feeling of “failure” into your future.

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