Failure is a part of success and the benefits of failure are that they bring success sooner for three glorious reasons.
Although often unplanned or unpleasant, failing can almost always be beneficial. The big failures take longer and can be harder to come back from, but, if and when you do, your success is sweeter.
The benefits of failure are:
- Failure crystallises into the here and now and makes you face it and have to deal with its consequences. Often when you are battling uncertainty, the fear of failure is greater than the failure itself but the certainty of failure makes it quantifiable. Once you measure it, you can work out how to tackle and deal with it head on.
- You learn to bounce back with greater resolve. Failure creates an inner resolve and determination not to be beaten again. Sometimes it takes a while but if you can bounce back it can lead to successes that taste all the sweeter.
- You adapt and change. As part of the post mortem you will likely review what went wrong and why, and hopefully learn from the circumstances. You will adapt and change your new plan to help you lead to your future success.
Benefits of failure and mental toughness
The benefits of failure are a central theme within mentally tough people. Their prior failures and setbacks often lead to them building an inner strength and self-efficacy. This is fashioned from the belief that if they can survive this setback they can survive anything. They then learn to bounce back from other failures quickly and become willing to seek changes and new situations and circumstances. These in turn produce new experiences that further reinforce their mental toughness and builds their confidence in their own abilities. How to develop your mental toughness
Benefits of failure and JK Rowling
The magical JK Rowling hasn’t yet completed her MTQ48 mental toughness test but I’m pretty sure it would indicate her to be pretty mentally tough. She gave an inspirational speech at Harvard University in which she highlighted the benefits of failure. This speech formed the basis of a book, called “Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination”. In this book she explains, with reference to her own life, that failure is a necessary and beneficial step in one’s life’s journey.
She famously struggled for years before becoming one of the world’s most successful authors. She recalls, “I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless.”
Rowling based her speech, the most viewed commencement speech on Harvard’s website, on “failure and imagination”. Here is her summation on the benefits of failure.
There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you. I am not dull enough to suppose that because you are young, gifted and well-educated, you have never known hardship or heartbreak. Talent and intelligence never yet inoculated anyone against the caprice of the Fates.
I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution.
Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.
I have included an extract of the speech – it is less than 3 minutes long and well worth watching View speech