Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Turning failure into success

I found an article on my blog reader “Feedly” that was about how to turn disappointment into success and it was more of the useless pap that people who have no clue how to actually turn that disappointment into success spew out.

They broke the things that happen down into 4 basic groups:

    A desired outcome does not occur.
    A desired outcome does occur but does not produce the feelings or results we expected.
    Our personal and/or professional expectations are unmet by ourselves or another.
    An undesired, unexpected event occurs that is in conflict with what we wanted or planned.

All of the definitions are spot on except for the third one “Our personal and/or professional expectations are unmet by ourselves or another”. It is wrong because success and failure are not about my expectations it’s about accomplishing or none accomplishing the task at hand.

The article then explained that; “What makes these unwanted surprises even harder to accept is our attachment to the way we expected things to go”.

Nonsense! What makes these unwanted surprises hard to except is that you didn’t get the result you PLANNED and WORKED VERY HARD for. When you plant some flowers and they don’t grow you are disappointed because you did all the work, expended all that effort and no flowers.

Turning failure (no flowers) into success (flowers) is very different from changing your attitude about no flowers, yet everything I read and everything people say about turning failure into success is about attitude.

When you apply for a job, success is getting the job and failure is not getting the job. Turning failure into success is about not getting that particular job and then finding a way to actually get that same job. Finding a different job is not turning that failure into success it is creating a new and different success.

While that new success may solve the problem of no job you can’t pretend that you turned the first failure into success.

No one plants flowers without the expectation that they will bloom and you will see the pretty flowers. The flowers blooming is why you plant flowers in the first place. If they don’t bloom you might plant a new batch of seed and try again. That’s not turning failure into success, that’s properly called starting over.

I can feel bad about the failure, accept that it’s just what happened and start over or pick a new direction and my attitude can help me do all of that. Mistaking a new beginning for success is self-delusion.

Reviewing what happened and figuring out what you might have done wrong so you can correct for it or not make the same mistake again is a real and necessary part of growing your abilities. It’s also possible to discover a way to fix whatever failed the first time and actually turn that failure into success. For example you are driving to a meeting and get a flat. Your trip is stopped and that’s a failure. Putting on the spare tire is turning that failure (that one unique stoppage) into success only if you get to your original destination on time.


Any real advice about turning failure into success must explain how to get the original, desired result. All the advice about attitude is about accepting that different result (no flowers) as positive and while that will certainly help you get over the disappointment and that’s a good thing; it is very different than changing the no flowers into flowers.

1 comment:

Bryan Neva, Sr. said...

What Life Asks of Us
http://profitatanyprice.blogspot.com/2015/07/what-life-asks-of-us.html