How to Recover from Failure

If you’re alive chances are you’ve failed at something (at least once). It’s a natural part of life and no one is immune from it both personally and professionally. There are so many wonderful quotes on how failure isn’t a destination and I wholeheartedly believe that it’s merely an opportunity to re-evaluate and try again.

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently”. – Henry Ford

It’s easy to understand that “Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.” – Napoleon Hill But a common question is How? How do you take the necessary steps to ensure that you are able to turn your failures into opportunities for success?

Before I begin let me disclaimer this article (and any other article claiming 10 easy steps to better your *insert challenge here). There is no easy way to do anything hard. There’s just not. If it were, then it wouldn’t be considered hard. There is no easy way to build a lasting marriage, or a successful business, or lose weight. Life is not easy and often times the best, most treasured things require work on some level. Now you can change your perspective which may, in turn, change what you view as easy or hard, but that is a different post, and even that requires work.

Having put out that disclaimer allow me to give you 5 Steps to Recover from Failure:

  1. Identify what went wrong. Almost every unsuccessful situation has some element that could have been improved. Some situations provide you with clear insight into failures. If it’s a poor grade on a test, maybe you could have studied more. If it is poor returns in a business or a lack of sales, maybe you could make changes to advertising strategies. But if it’s a situation that is more abstract and it’s not clear what went wrong, don’t shy away from asking. Go to someone trusted and simply ask, “How could I improve? What could I have done differently?” You’d be surprised at how receptive people can be when you take the time to simply ask.

Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Proverbs 8:33 

  1. Accept your shortcomings. It’s natural to be uncomfortable when you receive correction. However, I urge you to lean into the discomfort. It’s often in these times [of discomfort] that we can achieve the most growth. Remember that the lord disciplines those he loves, so we shouldn’t shy away from correction and we shouldn’t be embarrassed or ashamed of our shortcomings. We should instead find strength in identifying those areas of weakness because you cannot improve what you do not acknowledge.

Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence. Proverbs 15:32

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid. Proverbs 12:1

  1. Meditate on how you can improve. Instead of beating yourself up use your time and energy to identify things that will help you become a better version of yourself. Take time, in meditation or prayer, and dedicate that time to genuinely identifying the areas that can be improved.
  1. Make necessary changes. After you’ve identified what needs improvement you have to DO. THE. WORK. There are no shortcuts. If you need guidance or assistance there are people who specialize in that. But you have to make the first move. You are your own biggest advocate and the biggest beneficiary of your growth.

For the moment, all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11 

  1. Be patient with yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day. And the journey to personal and professional growth and maturity will not be completed by the time your finish this article. However, committing to improving yourself and recovering from failure and setbacks is a journey. You will have highs and lows. Moments of great growth and moments of minor regression. But you have to hunker down for the long haul; be patient with yourself and be patient with the process.


Pro Tip: Ignore those who try to hold your shortcomings over your head. It is often hard for other people to accept your growth, especially those who may be struggling with accepting their own shortcomings. Use these moments as opportunities to exercise grace and remain gracious in the face of criticism.

When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:23 

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