What You Need to Do to Bounce Back Stronger from Failure

We all make mistakes. It’s how we handle it that can make matters better—or worse.

1. Congratulations: You Failed

Call it what it is: You messed up! Did you crash your car into a light pole? Or was it only that you tucked your skirt into your underpants and walked through the office before realizing it? As long as you’re okay physically, dust off and get right back up. (Resilience is key.) As skiers say, if you’re not falling, you’re not getting better. Rule one of bouncing back from failure: Admit it, own it.

2. Do a post-mortem

Post-mortem translates to “after death” and doctors use it to refer to the review done following a patient death to spot any errors. You’re still breathing, but you’ll have trouble moving on from a mistake unless you conduct your own post-mortem. Analyze the situation and figure out what went wrong. For an outside perspective, you may want to enlist friends and loved ones. Recently, a client of mine was supposedly fired for frequently coming in 10 minutes late. The thing was, he hadn’t been late since his boss warned him about it three months earlier. So lateness wasn’t really the reason. By speaking with coworkers, colleagues, and a coach (me), he was able to figure out what led to the firing and deal with the real issues.

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(note: I originally wrote this piece for Reader’s Digest’s web site, www.rd.com)

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