While it’s common to envision “success” as a sort of plateau that we reach, and then coast along, any real career is filled with innumerable peaks and valleys. Successes and failures.
Taking risks – and sometimes failing – is the most effective way to learn and grow. Of course, that doesn’t mean we necessarily enjoy it.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re faced with failure:
1. Learn from it.
Don't try to ignore or forget the failure – by doing so, you sacrifice a valuable opportunity to learn from your mistakes and avoid a similar fate again in the future. Think about the root causes of what went wrong, and examine objectively how you could have approached things differently to avoid this outcome.
2. Document it.
When things go wrong, make sure you write down what you learned from the experience, including any specific points relating to the failure that will help you avoid it in future. The experience may be fresh in your mind now, but down the road you may forget the small, incremental steps that led you in the wrong direction in the first place.
3. Share it.
This may be the hardest part, but it’s also the most effective way to turn a failure into something positive. By owning up to your shortcomings and sharing them publicly, you demonstrate a maturity and openness that people will respect. You invite people to constructively help you learn and improve, and you defuse the possibility that people will be left to interpret what actually happened via secondhand information.
4. Bounce back from it.
Failure is part of the life cycle of every business and every individual. If you believe in what you're pursuing, you should consider a failure to be an interim step toward a greater success. Many even consider it a healthy and necessary component of an experienced and successful individual – someone who's never failed before has never reaped the benefits of the learning experience, and might be ripe to get knocked down a notch or two.
As my friend Walt Ribeiro says, "It's only failure if you don't get up again." When you're back on your feet, you'll find yourself stronger than before, ready to fight another day.
This post comes from Tony Bacigalupo, co-founder of New Work City, a co-working space in New York City, co-author of I'm Outta Here, and a partner at Shift 101, a workspace consultancy. Tony’s fieldwork feeds into the knowledgebase of the Behance Team, who run the Behance Creative Network, the 99% productivity think thank, the Action Method project management application, and the Creative Jobs List.