Grit Can Help You Turn Failures Into Success

Staying on the treadmill is one thing. But getting back on the treadmill the next day, eager to try again is, in my view, even more reflective of grit.

That quote is from a new book I am reading called GRIT which,  basically,  shows through research that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.”It  In other words, getting back on the treadmill.

As a gym person, I notice that the first of the year, after the holidays, the gym is crowded. New workout clothes, bottles of water — the newcomers are all set for getting the new year off to a sterling start.  But as we regulars would wink amongst ourselves, we knew that in a few months they will not be back. In other words, they did not get back on the treadmill.

Failure is an orphan but success has multiple fathers

I heard it said recently that Warren Buffet will not invest in someone unless they have failed before. We learn more from our failures that we could ever learn from a success.

Over the years I have gotten numerous requests from people concerning careers; some of them have been laid off, fired or whatever. My response has remained consistent:

That is great, pick yourself up and move on to the next adventure. Analyze the situation and decide what you would do differently, then move on.  DO NOT WASTE TIME RELIVING IT OVER AND OVER.

However, some of them rehash the same conversation endlessly. At that point, I mention our conversations will cease if they keep repeating the same narrative. In other words, enough already. Move on.

There will be times in all of our lives when we will fail. It is important that young people realize this. If you look, you’ll find that most successful people have fallen victim to the most masterful of teaching moments: The Failure

Fall seven times, stand up eight

The difference between these people and the rest is that when they fail they use this as a stepping stone for the next adventure. We all have the power to turn any failed situation into a winning streak. We must always remember that failure is not a death sentence. Whether your promotion or your business goes awry, you will go through a grieving process, but never ever let that become an anchor. Let it become the fuel that moves your forward.

I had a drawer in my desk at home in which I kept every rejection letter for jobs that I interviewed for.  On the “cloudy days,” I would read through each one. By the time I finished, I was ready to tackle the world, or as the book says, I was getting back on the treadmill.

Motivation to do better

That was my motivation; I would show them. That technique — using rejection as high-powered octane — filled my tank to move forward. Failure should never determine your trajectory. When you turn failure into motivation to do better, you will find it can be easy to want to better your situation. No matter what the failure, you can use it to motivate yourself to get more done.

It is no big deal to fail

I remember starting a business years ago that I just knew was a sure tAmbition and persistence signhing. In the end I lost big time. However, I realized that sometimes we fail at things because they were not meant to be. I now look back on that situation and wonder, “What was I thinking?” But I got back on the treadmill and moved on. It was not meant to be.

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When something does not work out as planned, or even when we fail at something, it could be because we need to redirect our lives. Use failure as an opportunity to look at your life and decide what you need to do to get back on track. The track may be a different one, but it also may be a more successful one.

Failure is like a practice for life

When you know you have failed and feel like you have hit rock bottom, use the failure as motivation to climb back up. I liken it to a practice session for life. In sports, we practice every day to improve.  In life, our failure serves as that practice session. The sweat and tears we endure to get better are the same whether it is a sport, hobby or a failure at some point and time in your life. I mention point in time because in our lives we will experience many “learning points.” They may look at that time as a death sentence. But redirect you’re thinking to an effort to get you back on track.

That failure is your opportunity to either fine tune your efforts, or  to move on and wave goodbye to that part of your plan.

Use the failure as motivation to climb to the top. When you do this, you will see that instead of running from failure you will look it in the eye and overcome it. Allow yourself to fail without ripping yourself apart.

My father gave me an anchor point in life because his favorite saying was, “You can’t blame a person for being down, but you can blame them for staying down.”

In other words, get back on the treadmill. That is the secret of life whether it is business or personal. The key is getting back on.

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.

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