Emily Shaw

Professional Development Advice: Failure Is Not the Opposite of Success

Best Piece of Advice: "Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of it."

I’ve been given a lot of good advice in my life. Examples: “Give yourself a 24-hour window to engage in conversation with a person who has upset you.” “Never lend money to someone with the expectation that they will pay you back.” “Fear is the opposite of faith.” The list goes on. But there’s one I heard recently that seems to ring the loudest for me at this point in my life.

“Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of it.”
-Ariana Huffington

Aside from being named one of Forbes’ Most Powerful Women, launching The Huffington Post, contributing to a few books, and oh yeah…winning a Pulitzer Prize, it turns out Ariana Huffington also gives really great advice.

Call it “Type A personality”, or “High D behavioral style”, or “First Born” - call it what you will - but I tend to get caught up in attempting to control the outcome of things. Now, this is not the kind of control an evil villain may wield in an attempt to destroy all good in the world while sitting on a throne built by minions, sporting a black satin robe, maniacally cackling with arms outstretched toward a lightening riddled sky. But it is the kind of control that makes me feel if I just plan enough, think hard enough, and stress myself out completely on all levels, maybe I can avoid failure. Because those of us attempting to control the outcome with over-analyzing and worrying aren’t doing so from a place of mal-intent, we just want things to end well. But things are not going to end well every time. Failure is unavoidable. We are fallible humans in an unpredictable world.

So, yes, follow a process. Make a plan. Carry out that plan with a series of actions. But remember that when you fail, you failed because you attempted something. No one has ever achieved success without failure first. Be proud of your failure. Start to associate your failure with inching closer toward success. Learn everything you can from it. What could you have done differently? What step in the process did you bypass? What mindset should you have gone in with, but didn’t? And then use it as fuel for the fire within you to achieve success. Change your mindset from “If I fail, I lose” to “I must fail to win.” Now get out there and screw some stuff up!

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Categories: Leadership, Life, People