can failure be a benefit?

failure imageNobody likes a failure, right?

But are failures ever your fault? Now, I know it’s common to treat every failure the same way.

We feel, either it’s because of something we’ve done, something we didn’t do, something we don’t think we’re good enough to do, or something we KNOW we shouldn’t have tried to do.

But failures are often nothing to do with any of that.

To understand what I mean, you first have to understand that there are two types of failure.

  1. Random Failures.
  2. Systematic Failures

If you have to have a failure, you should hope it’s a random failure. Random failures are good.

Let’s give you an example.

Imaging that a friend asks you to enter a 5k charity run with them next year. If you’re anything like me, then your answer may be, “5,000 metres!! I can’t even run 50 metres before I’m worn out. I’ll never be able to run 5,000 I’m not a runner.”

The response above, is treating ‘not being able to run’ like it’s a systematic failure. ie, one that you have no control over. In fact though, it’s really a random failure, which means you do have control.

It will take some commitment and work, but if you run a little bit every day, increase the distance every time you’re able to, six months should be plenty of time.

The issue happens because your mind likes to take the easy route whenever possible. Being able to run 5,000 metes seems impossible at the moment. But, if you could break that down, so you added a little bit further to your run every day, a year would be plenty of time to be successful.

Systematic failure. A systematic failure that happens in a deterministic (non random) predictable fashion from a certain cause, which can only be eliminated by a modification of the design or of the manufacturing process, operational procedures, documentation, or other relevant factors.


Random Failure. A failure whose occurrence is unpredictable in absolute sense

The majority of failures fall into the first category. You’ve no doubt heard the saying…

You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all the people, all of the time.

No matter what you do, or say, there will always be someone who doesn’t agree with you, so there’s always the potential to fail, if you think you have to please everyone.

As an example, let’s say you decided to write a short story.

Once you’ve finished, you pass the final manuscript to 100 people, to get their opinions.

Of the 100, ten of them say they didn’t enjoy the book. When you ask why, one of them says, ” I didn’t get the character”, another says “I couldn’t understand the plot”, yet another says “I thought it was a bit boring”, etc.

These are all random failures.This type of failure, you’ll never overcome. Now, you can absolutely find out from them what was missing, and re-write the story. But, who’s to say the re-write doesn’t reduce the pleasure that the next person gets? Maybe they would’ve enjoyed the original story more?


The second type of failure, is the systematic failure. This is the one where you have a failure and you don’t learn from it. You try again, but make the exact same mistakes.


Anytime you have a failure, ask yourself if it fits into this category; the random failure.


Steve, who's also the Founder of Teen Anxiety UK, has been writing books and articles about various aspects of Psychology since 2006.

For the last five years, he's main focus has been in helping build confidence and self-esteem.

His formal qualifications include Clinical Hypnotherapy, Psychotherapy, NLP and CBT.

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