Failure is Part of the Process

There was a time in my life when I was afraid of failure. And when you are a perfectionist like me, failure is anything less than perfect. My high school was competition-oriented, an environment which made a huge deal out of every small lapse and like a good student, I internalised every small bit of it. I started my bachelor’s in psychology with this mindset and remember the exact moment I snapped out of it.

It happened in my second year at the university, on my first research workshop. On the wall of the room was a Beckett quote:

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

That was the moment I realised: if I want to be a researcher I can’t be angry at failure, I can’t be sad about failure and I definitely can not blame myself, for failure.

Failure is part of the process, that’s the way new skills are learned and that’s how new discoveries are made. It’s even part of the scientific method. Beautiful hypotheses, crafted with so much love and care, must be rejected in the face of experimental evidence. Many of my colleagues consider this as a failure and I had several cases where — after going through the results of the statistical analysis — I had to provide immediate crisis support to my client who’s theories have been disproved.

If you want to learn something new, do research or start a business, you must re-frame failure. Failure is never a period at the end of the sentence. It is comma, or at best, a semicolon. If you can learn from your failure you have just succeeded at learning. Embrace the mistakes you make. If you feel like you have failed always analyse the reasons. The insights you gain might be more valuable than they seem.

To this day I have a hard time accepting that everything just can’t be perfect. But at the same time using alternative learning methods such as online courses I’m starting to come to terms with making mistakes without grave consequences0. Making a mistake in an online challenge only means that I have yet to learn something. It challenges me to do more and try my best and dare to grow.

Try new methods, fail spectacularly and grow.