We are not necessarily lucky to live in today’s society. It is marked by endless choices and yet few opportunities to be able to work with what you chose and reach success. There is more and more competition and only a small percentage reach their goals. What is the difference for those that make it? They managed to turn their failures into useful tools to reach success in the end. If you think that all big leaders of big corporations and well-known artists were born with a silver-spoon in their mouths – think again.
Just like everyone makes mistakes, I can assure you that they did as well – small and big. However, the difference is that those who arrive to “make it” NEVER GAVE up despite their initial mistakes and failures. Many people today want to take the fast-track to success. My first advice is: If you are not prepared to spend time and effort you have already lost your goal before even starting.
1. Failure is a first test of your abilities to succeed
We rarely get it right the first time. We have to practise, practise and then practise some more. It is a very straight-forward approach; If you haven’t succeeded, you start over and try again. When I was in art’s school I ruined tons of papers where I found mistakes. But without those papers I would have never have learnt how to draw anatomical proportions with ease. The same reality is present in every fame – if you succumb to your previous defeats you will not enjoy the game as much in the future. Thus, be aware that none is a superhero and you will be able to see the power of mistakes to make you take another step towards success.
2. Trial and error
Mistakes are not only tangible things that we have done wrong, but can also take the form of mistakes in decision-making. In this sense, mistakes give you experience that you can use as tools to lead you to better decisions. Because, how do we know what is the right for us if we don’t try different things? I worked as a fashion photographer for years, but never really understood why I didn’t feel fully comfortable.
By trial and error I discovered that what really motivates me is to have more freedom of what I photograph. I have also fallen in love with video-making. This new insight made me realise that I didn’t completely succeed in fashion photography, because I had made the mistake of what kind of photographer I actually wanted to be. Since my realisation I have never felt as much joy in taking pictures and making videos. Now I have no internal pressure to find and capture staged beauty of a model. Instead I have the freedom to capture natural beauty in both people and nature.
3. Failures Improves Your Character
As a child I was very turbulent and argued with everyone. But it didn’t matter how many arguments I had, it still didn’t change my behaviour. It wasn’t until the moment when my nonsense and mistakes had consequences for my life that I began to change. I am not saying that we must be extremist and behave badly to turn out good. But I dare to argue that everyone has at some point behaved in a way that realised was a mistake. Instead of “giving up” and continuing to behave in a way that you secretly know is not right, you should recognise your mistake, learn from them and make a change.
Be grateful that you were able to realise where you failed instead of focusing on what has already been done. As I mention in a previous article, I would never have had the wisdom and mental strength that I currently have if it wasn’t for my experiences and tortuous past. In other words, our mistakes doesn’t only lead to professional but also personal success and development!
4. Spread the message! Your failures can be someone else’s best advice
We never wish to see friends or family fail. For example, some of my previous peers from art school are currently struggling to succeed. Instead of working in the arts they have a back-up job that limits their creativity. None should ever judge the lives of others. However, if it’s within our power to help and spread knowledge of experienced mistakes we should always aim to spread the message. This might just be the advice and encouragement your loved ones need to find their right path again.
I know with conviction that I will do my best to ensure that my children don’t do the same mistakes as me. I don’t think I am alone in this intention. That is why it is super important to stay humble and acknowledge our failures. Life shouldn’t be a competition of who made the least failures. If you have managed to reach success share how you did it. Your success is your loved ones’ success as well and vice versa.
5. Failure reminds us that life and success are precious
Perhaps you have already reached success within your profession. Your company might be at its height or your artistic talent has already been recognised around the world. Never forget that life is fragile. You can visualise it as a thin thread that keep everything together. We constantly see people who have succeeded and suddenly they are down at bottom again. Don’t ride on your high horses of previous achievements, but rather challenge yourself to continue to move forward. There will always be areas where we can improve.
I just saw a fantastic documentary called “Jiro dreams about sushi”. It tells the story of Jiro, an 85 year old Japanese man who’s sushi restaurant has earned 3 michelin stars. He says that he has no plans of retiring and he doesn’t like to take vacation. “I fell in love with my work form the first day”. You may find his example extreme – but it teaches a valuable lesson. Success is a never-ending process.