How to make failures your friend

日本語はこちら

Some are good at learning from failures, while others almost always waste failures. What are differences between those people?

When you try something new, you try your best to succeed, and it's only natural to avoid failing.

But failing isn't necessarily bad. In fact, there are lessons that can only be taught by failing, and sometimes, you might even appreciate to some of your failures.

But then, why did we want to avoid failing in the first place?

It should be more than just you couldn't get the result you expected because that can happen to success too, but when you succeeded more than you expected, you become rather happier.

I think people don't like failing because it makes your weakness so visible, and making weakness visible means being vulnerable. So when you fail, you feel insecure. You don't like feeling insecure, so you want to avoid failing.

This is probably why you don't like failing especially in public, while you don't care to fail if nobody is watching because being vulnerable does little to nothing if nobody is watching. Some people go to extremes and don't even try anything in public if they saw a slightest chance of failing. When they fail, they see a threat and flee.

But there are others who are less afraid of failing in public, and they are usually the ones that are good at learning from it. When they fail, they see an opportunity to improve.

It is an opportunity because when your weakness is visible, it is clear what to improve. On the other hand, when things are going well, it's hard to improve because it's not that clear what to improve; after all, it's all going well already.

I believe that visibility of weakness is the most and probably the only valuable thing you can get out of your failures. In other words, if you don't learn anything from failures, you are waisting the failures.

Nobody likes to waste, and it's better to learn something from your failures than just failing. But it's not that easy because, in order to learn from failures, you need to see and understand your weakness. And making your weakness clear makes you vulnerable especially when others are around, yet pretty much all crucial actions are taken while interacting with others.

So how can we actually learn from failures?

One way that helped me is to stop thinking about being better than others and start thinking about continuously improving yourself. It's okay that you are not better than others, as long as you are improving.

Continuously improving takes continuously being yourself. Improvement is about yourself, so it doesn't matter you are better or worse than others; you can be the best in the world and still not improving a bit, and vice versa.

Continuously being yourself takes continuously seeing yourself as is. There is no cover stories or excuses when you fail. You need to see all your good and bad as it really is; if you distort reality, you may not see your real weakness, so you may end up improving wrong things or nothing at all.

It may not come natural to you first, but after some practice, you will find it's actually easier than living life pretending to be someone bigger than yourself.

Now, you may say "But I wanna be better than others!" That's totally okay, but please think why you want to be better than others.

There must be a bigger, more personal reason why you want to be better than others because being better than others itself does't bring you any value; you can just sit still and yet become better than others if others become worse. It's consequences of being better than others that bring you value.

Maybe you want others to respect you? Or you want others to love and adore you? You want something from others, right? You are trying to compare yourself with others, so I assume your goal has something to do with others.

Now, whatever your real goal is, what's the most effective way to achieve it? Say your goal is to gain respect from others. Do you respect a person who's pretending to be someone he's not? Do you respect a person who's coming up with excuses because he's too afraid to admit that he failed?

Those tricks might buy you what you want for a short period of time, but that won't last. If you continue doing that, you will likely end up holding on to your fake characters, thinking what your life could have been if you lived a life true to yourself. That's actually the most common regret of the dying.

Whatever your real goal is, chances are, continuously improving yourself is the most effective way to achieve it. After all, you don't have control over others anyway, so comparing yourself with others will only lose your focus to improve.

There are people good at learning from failures, and there are ones waste failures. Failing makes you vulnerable because it makes your weakness visible. When failed, some see an opportunity to improve, while others see it as a threat and flee. Learning from failures takes thinking about improving yourself instead of being better than others, and improving yourself takes being yourself because improvement is about yourself.

Shogo Wada

楽しさと実用性の両立が好き。プログラマー。