Failure: An Eventual Change for the Better
How have you handled times when you felt like a failure?
Keep reading to see how failure can lead to a positive change in your life, changing you for the better.
I sat at the edge of my seat with my eyes closed as I listened to the results of the Division F Toastmasters International Speech Contest. The third place winner was announced, then the second place winner.
The contest chair read the results. “And the winner of the Toastmasters International Speech Contest who will be representing Division F at the District is…”
Not me? I didn’t even place?
I sat in shock. Kelly took my hand to console me. I was speechless, and numb. How could I have failed so miserably as to not even place?
My mind raced. “What about being on the world stage? That was supposed to help launch my speaking career. That won’t happen now. I am a failure.”
Little did I know, that night would eventually change me for the better.
Wallowing Serves No Useful Purpose
That same night, the girlfriend of someone I know said, “I do not know you Pam. Bryan told me nothing about your speech. Of all the speeches yours was the best. Because of your speech I am going to stop letting opportunities pass me by. Thank You.” Her words were kind, but sadly, did nothing to make me feel better, at that moment.
For the duration of the my train ride home, I repeated over and over, “I don’t understand.” My eyes clouded with tears, then finally it happened. Tears began to fall down my cheeks as I struggled to understand the judges decision.
I spent two months searching for answers, feeling wounded, and wallowing in something I could not control. No answers came to me. I was no better than that night. Wallowing was serving no purpose.
Focus Less on Your Failures, More on What Matters
After two months of wallowing, I ran into Narani, a work colleague, fellow Mad Toasters Toastmaster, and friend. She too offered her displeasure in the contest results, but ultimately, she saved me from me.
You see, Narani told me she had chosen me as her hero for an assignment for an in-house class. I was certainly humbled and honored. She went on to say that my speech had changed her. It was because of my speech that she was seeking out opportunities.
Hadn’t someone said something similar to me on the night of the contest? Yes, but at that time I was not ready to hear it.
On that day, however, it was because of Narani that I began to focus less on the failure of not making it to the world stage, to focus more on what mattered.
Changing Your Thoughts Changes Your View of Failure
I stopped trying to understand the reasoning of the judges. Instead, I took a critical view of what happened that night. I focused on what I could control.
When I considered how that night played out, I had to admit, unlike a previous night when I was on fire and engaging with the audience, feeding off of them, the night of the division contest I was an over rehearsed, scripted, dud. The message was great, but the delivery was off.
In the beginning of my speech I ask, “Have you ever, out of the fear of failure or fear of uncertainty closed the door on opportunity?” A young man sitting in the front row raised his hand, as he shook his head in acknowledgement. So focused on what came next, I continued on with the speech rather than acknowledging him. That was a perfect opportunity to have engaged the audience, but I missed.
Have you ever, out of the fear of failure or fear of uncertainty closed the door on opportunity?
Onto something, I continued with an honest critique of that night. What resulted was the speaker that I am today.
Lessons from Failure Bring the Best Out of You
A couple of weeks before running into Narani the then Lieutenant Governor of Marketing for District 46 said to me, “Pam, your speech was amazing. Don’t stop competing.”
I learned a lot from losing that night. I did not need a competition to do what was most important.
After my honest assessment of that night, I realized failing to win that contest taught me what matters. What mattered most was having the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of others, like I had for Narani and Bryan’s girlfriend, not winning a contest.
To accomplish that, I made it my mission to be an engaging and inspiring motivational speaker.
Guess, what? That is exactly what I have become. Lesson learned and added to my lesson deposit.
That is how I learned that failure brings out the best in you.
Allow Your Failures to Change You for the Better
Failing to win that night was far more beneficial to me than winning could have ever been. Why?
Had I won that night, I quite possibly would have never learned, for myself, that failure is your best teacher. Failing to win the contest turned me into a better speaker, allowing me to inspire others. No doubt, failure changes you for the better.
When it comes to what you may perceive as a failure, I strongly encourage you to not wallow in what will serve you no purpose, to control what you can control, and to change how you view your failures. I bet you’ll find that when you focus on what matters and embrace the lessons from your failures you’ll be changed for the better.
- Remember to not wallow in what will serve you no purpose.
- Remember to control what you can control.
- Remember to change how you view your failures.
- Remember to make an honest assessment of your failures.
- Remember to focus on what matters.
- Remember to embrace the lessons from your failures.