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Failure is a Gift

How do you respond to failure?

When you make a mistake, face a setback, or encounter a roadblock, how do you handle it?

A toddler might throw a tantrum.

A scientist might do research.

An engineer might take apart the machine and rework it.

We have all had challenges, large and small.

I have been fired from a job.  I have suffered the frustration of infertility.  When these things happened to me, I was not really equipped to deal with them.  So, I coped in the only way I knew how at the time.  I put on a brave face and faked it.  I faked my smile.  I faked my courage.  I faked my pride. 

I avoided and denied, burying the overwhelming guilt, humiliation, and shame I felt.

I lost many productive years in this mindset.

Then I began a master’s program in leadership and started studying self-leadership.  I read about successful people who overcame greater obstacles than I had faced.  I became obsessed with understanding how they achieved their goals.

I came to understand that failure is a gift. 

Failure is a tool that forces us to stop, evaluate and confirm that what we are doing is the right thing for us.  Obstacles, setbacks, and mistakes allow us to pivot our position and refine our process.  The problem helps us produce better work and be more creative.

Failure is not the end.  Failure is a steppingstone to the next level. 

It is time we redefined failure and embraced it. 

The Japanese culture has a beautiful tradition for when pottery is cracked or broken.  Kintsugi, translated as “golden joinery,” uses gold, silver, or platinum to reset the broken pieces and repair the damage.  This technique highlights the breakage, rather than hiding it.

The art of Kintsugi transforms broken pottery into something more valuable.  The damage is celebrated, and the pottery is more beautiful because of its flaws.

It took me 13 years to embrace my failures and see the lessons life was trying to teach me.  My hope is that my story offers you a shortcut.  When we face adversity, we need to look for the lesson and move forward with experience.

Redefine how you see failure and embrace it as part of your journey.

How can you change your response to failure, setbacks, and obstacles?  What do you need to learn so you can move forward in growth?