Will failure define you or propel you?

The Internet is full of people talking about failure. Whereas some use the term fail often or even fail more, others seem to resent the term failure as some kind of weakness or a sign people accept that it is okay to fail.

Now although I understand where both sides are coming from I feel the focus is in the wrong area. I have personally experienced both sides of this coin first hand when working around the world.

In my career, I worked for American companies on global teams and handled the Middle East region where the thinking around failure was simply a learning process, a stepping stone if, and this is the main point; if you acquired experience or bounced back from failure stronger. People admired this or celebrated your achievement and strength. In the UK however, things are very different.

In the UK people get very nervous if you say you had any failure in your career. Whether this was a business or a position you may have held, it is shunned and brushed under the carpet as if that experience defines you as a person, as in you are a failure! This is regardless of what you achieved after that experience.

I have, like everyone, had very dark moments in my personal and professional life and although they were frightening and even life-threatening at times I can tell you the person I came out the other side of each one of these moments is a stronger, more knowledgeable and experienced individual. These moments are not something you can learn on a course or in a book you have to go through them to gain experience that you have to use in the next part of your life. Failure is a single moment, something that is temporary if you have the right attitude or defeat if you allow it.

And this really is the key for me regarding failure, it is not whether a failure is something that should be shunned, hidden or even celebrated. It is the action that follows failure that is what defines us, it is what we do with that experience, hurt and even pain after a failure that is where the whole discussion should be focused. Because after failure, you have a choice to either believe you have a limit of what you can achieve in this life, or you learn from the experience and use it to propel yourself to greatness!

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