failure in life

The 4 Most Important Lessons Only Failure Can Teach You

There I was on a stage in Nashville, TN. It was 1986 at Printer’s Alley. Young, brave, and just dumb enough to think I could be one of those legendary singers that cut their teeth on that street. The band starts up the song and I went…totally blank. Completely. Couldn’t remember a single lyric. Needless to say, I wasn’t welcomed back. It was an enormous failure in life for me.

No one relishes failure. It’s painful. Isolating. Disheartening. Yet, many of the deepest lessons of success are bred and nurtured from the ashes of crashing and burning. Failure gives birth to depth and experience, the things that pick us up and make us wiser. Here are 4 important lessons I learned from failing.

1. Focus on what’s really important

I have often failed because I tried to do too much at once. Nothing received my full attention and best efforts. It led to making hard choices that would allow me to focus my efforts concisely towards what I really wanted—a happy, thriving, marriage and family. “You can’t have it all,” they’d tell me. They were right. Zeroing in on what truly mattered to me was a great lesson.

2. Consequences help us make future choices

You’re familiar with the phrase, school of hard knocks. There exists no better teacher than the consequences of mistakes and poor judgment. Failure always brings an unpleasant consequence. That leaves us with a clear choice. Learn from and accept the consequence moving forward better from the experience, or keep making the same mistakes with the consequences worsening each time. When we are humbled, we are ripe to make corrections.

3. Failure provides self-awareness

I’d very much like to be a great singer and legendary guitar player. Not going to happen! My embarrassing experience in Nashville drove this point home for me. However, I’m perfectly suited to being a solid drummer. Clarity of one’s strengths and weaknesses is a beautiful gift to receive from failure. It allows us to see the areas where our talents can most effectively be used.

4. Time is precious

Few things are more frustrating than the realization after failing that our time was wasted. We don’t get it back. I look in the past at a failed 5-year relationship in my 20’s as one of my biggest regrets. I’d love to have those years back. Our time is quite precious. Failure brings that truth into the light quite clearly. Use that understanding to make better defined and more responsible decisions. Doing so brings cherished memories instead of painful regrets. Time well spent equals success and happiness.

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