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Posted by Sashee Chandran

In case you missed it, our Sunday Steeping featured this powerful quote:

Life is full of opportunities to take risks and we are constantly asked (in one form or another) to step out of our comfort zones. However, the higher we fly, the further we fall, right? Sometimes, the one thing holding us back from taking a chance is the fear of rejection. Whether we are going out on a limb to start a new business, go back to school, or take leaps in our personal lives, understanding that failure is part of the process--and that it can be a positive experience--is a part of a victorious journey. Failing takes courage and it takes strength. Here are some ways that we can turn failure on its head and make it an empowering process.

Separate the failure from your identity. We absolutely admire accountability. However, oftentimes, we tend to blur the line that separates our accomplishments, successes, and accolades from our identities. We feel better about ourselves when we get that promotion, don't we? On the flip side, when we stumble or fail, our self-esteem and well-being takes a hit. Part of dealing with failure means that we consciously uncouple our performance from our self-esteem. Failure is not a measurement of your shortcomings as a person, after all. You put in the work and the effort and that is what matters.

Delve into what went wrong. Sometimes, when things don't work out, it's easy to try and push a failed attempt out of one's mind. Just looking at a project that hit the "reject" bin conjures up frustration, sadness, or anger. However, taking the time to research into the "problems" and asking "what went wrong? Where can I improve? How can I adapt this to make it work?" are incredibly valuable and will become a part of your eventual success. Failure is not the end, it's a test run, a stop along the way to improvement and final victory.

Let it go. Sometimes the best advice is the most simple. So, you have to start from the drawing board. Let it go. Don't do yourself the disservice of lingering on the past and beating yourself up for not getting it right the first or even the second time. Take a deep breath and see this fresh start as an entirely new opportunity to learn and to get it right.

Take a new perspective. How many times have you been working on a project, writing a paper, or tackling a problem and hit a wall? Maybe you're having trouble wording a paragraph or figuring out a design flaw. These conflicts can all be very frustrating. First of all, acknowledging your frustration is absolutely understandable and admirable. Take a step back, walk away, and take a break (by which we mean, walk away completely -- for at least an hour, sometimes a day or two, and change focus). When you return, try approaching your work with a completely fresh and different perspective. You'll be surprised at how easily new ideas and solutions may flow.

Don't rely on others to fulfill you. We are social creatures. We are almost conditioned to crave acceptance from others--it's an evolutionary survival tactic, after all. However, this can get in the way of how we feel about failure. If we let others validate our work or tell us that we are worthy, we are getting in the way of our own success. Believe in yourself. Working on a project is a great instance where focusing on yourself and competing only with yourself is an excellent choice.

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