It's OK to Fail! Here's How to Recover When You Do

‘Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett

It’s ok to fail.

No, really — it is! It may seem like some of the most successful people in the world have been on a steady upward path, but some of world’s most rich and famous people have screwed up epically.

Walt Disney was once told he wasn’t very creative and his drawings weren’t particularly good. He went on to build a creative empire. Steven Spielberg was rejected by the University of Southern California’s film school three times. That school now has a building named after him. Henry Ford’s first two companies failed and he declared bankruptcy five times in his life. History views him as the father of the automobile and his car company is one of the largest in the world.

Not all failures have perfectly happy endings. Could you imagine life without your cell phone? Kodak was actually the first company to develop technology for both the digital camera and the cell phone — but both seemed like a threat to their core, profitable existence at the time. So, they sat on the technology, other people developed it, and Kodak missed out on a huge opportunity. Along the same lines, Blockbuster said “No, thanks” to purchasing Netflix, and Excite passed on purchasing Google in the 1990s.

At some point in your life, you’re going to screw up, too. It may be a bad decision, a miscommunication, or a missed opportunity. Maybe you’ll bounce back like Walt Disney, or maybe you won’t, like Blockbuster.

Either way, failure is one of the best learning opportunities you have. People who have the life you want are resilient. They persevere. They learn from their mistakes and take steps to avoid making those mistakes again.

So how do you recover when you stumble or fall at work?

Revive yourself. It’s ok to lick your wounds and feel sorry for yourself, but don’t let that take over. Make a list of things you’ve been successful at recently to help change your mental state.

Brainstorm solutions. Once you feel better, think about the ways you can correct your problem, or avoid it in the future. Recommit to your goals and envision what success would look like if you were presented with the same situation again.

Focus on what you can control going forward. Sometimes things are out of our control. Make sure you focus your mental energy on what you can control — you can’t control the weather, but you can control how well you prepare for it.

Remember, whether you fail or succeed, you are still you, and you are awesome.


Warren Wright