How Failure Leads To Success: 15 Ways To Overcome Adversity

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 19 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Failure is the inability to achieve your goal. It can be distressing but it certainly is the perfect way to rethink, reconsider and realign your strategies for the future. Understanding how to use failure as a learning tool can help you achieve success faster. In this article, we discuss how failure leads to success and outline 16 useful ways to overcome failure.

How Failure Leads To Success?

While failure is a human experience most people prefer to avoid, here is how failure leads to success:

Failure inspires positivity

Failure can initially bring a surge of negative emotions, including anxiety and embarrassment. Once you overcome those emotions, you can start afresh and work towards your goal. The drive to get past your setbacks and achieve your objectives can inspire positive change.

Related: Inspirational Quotes To Inspire You In The Workplace

Failure brings clarity to your decisions

Failures teach you what went wrong last time so that you make a better decision next time. Your client might have dismissed your last pitch or a hiring manager might have rejected your application. Failure gives you a sense of direction and another opportunity to right your wrongs.

Failure helps build resilience

It might be easy to feel defeated by failure. The real task is to get up and get going. When you overcome failure, you end up being far more resilient and equipped to tackle rejections. Failure is an invaluable treasure that pushes people to work hard, be determined and stay patient so that it is easier to be successful.

How To Overcome Failure?

Follow these 15 steps to acknowledge, accept and overcome failure:

1. Acknowledge your feelings

The initial response to failure may be to dismiss it as if it does not really matter, even though it does. Allow yourself to acknowledge your feelings. If you are angry or disappointed, try to understand where the feeling comes from and what it is telling you.

Example: Priya missed the promotion she had expected. She feels let down by her inability to succeed. Priya analyses her feelings and learns that her disappointment is not in herself, but in her expectation of getting the role. She sets goals to improve her productivity to distinguish herself from her colleagues, rather than assuming she already did.

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2. Acknowledge irrational belief

One instance of failure can make you think you might fail in all future endeavours as well. One way to combat this is to think back on your past successes. Compile a list of successes, big or small, and consult it before the next task or when you feel fear taking over.


  • Received a promotion.

  • Helped a colleague finish his presentation.

  • Learned a new skill.

  • Successfully completed walking 5,000 steps.

  • Led a new campaign that was nominated for an award.

3. Accept responsibility

Failure may result from a mistake, misdirection or miscalculation. Whatever the reason, acknowledge your role so that you can avoid repeating them. Owning your mistakes makes you more powerful. Remember that human beings make mistakes. So forgive your missteps.

Example: Sameer received a confirmation mail with the time and date of his driving test. Sameer did not enter the appointment on his phone or wall calendar, believing that he could remember the details. On the day of the test, Sameer missed the appointment by 30 minutes. Now, he has to wait six months to take the test again. Sameer acknowledges it was not a great idea to rely solely on memory and decides to record all future appointments.

4. Do not take it personally

A business, career or personal failure can be a setback, but it is not a definition of who you are. While it is easy to take failures personally, it is important that you separate your personal life from your setbacks. Remind yourself that most of the successful and famous people throughout history have all had failures.

5. Use negative emotion productively

You might feel self-pity every time you fail. When you feel that way, it seems easier to eat the chocolate cake or spend the rest of the day shopping online. While such activities may provide temporary solace, they are not an effective solution. The wiser option is to use your negative emotions productively. Direct them into the motivation to find a solution. Ask yourself what you could have done differently so that you have a plan of action for the next time.

6. Adopt coping skills

Reduce stress and anxiety by practising coping skills such as meditation, going for a long walk, talking to a friend or spending time with your pet. Redirecting your attention may help you better understand how you can learn from your failures. Reducing stress and developing feel-good hormones can change your outlook so you can form solutions and try again.

7. Boost self-esteem

Failure can affect your self-esteem, bringing up doubts about your ability or value. Reduce the negative impact on self-esteem by reminding yourself that failure is temporary and not indicative of future mistakes. Shift your attention to a hobby or pursuit not governed by risk or reward. This not only keeps you occupied but also reminds you that self-esteem is a culmination, rather than a single point.

Related: How To Motivate Employees: 18 Steps for Workplace Success

8. Seek support

Find someone to listen to your story. A friend or colleague may validate your feelings or share a story of failure that lessens your impact. Family and friends may offer advice or simply provide a space to hear your thoughts out loud. If needed, speak to a counsellor or mental health expert. It is imperative to eliminate negativity so that you can start from the beginning.

9. Evaluate what you learned

Thinking back and evaluating past mistakes not only helps to avoid the same mistake but also discover how useful failure can be. Maybe you learned you are stuck in the wrong job or that your communication skills need sharpening. Whatever lessons you learned, take them with you to the next endeavour.

10. Inspire yourself from previous failures

Failure is rarely a one-time event. Big or small, failures happen despite your best efforts. When faced with failure, remember tough times eventually pass. Failure is temporary and a part of life.

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11. Research failures of famous people

The lives of great men can inspire you to do better in the future. Famous people overcome all kinds of failures and adversities to achieve success. The failures of these people can inspire you to battle all kinds of adversities and do better in the future.

12. Adapt to changing circumstances

Sometimes failure happens when you follow a routine and fail to notice the nuance of a situation. Assess how you approached the risk, how you responded to the circumstances and what you may have overlooked. Rather than being rigid and missing opportunities, failure reminds us to be observant and adapt to changing circumstances.

Example: Iman has worked with a fashion design company for the past two years. Happy with his work, his supervisor recently recommended him for a promotion. Soon after, the company was taken over by the designer's son who has different goals for the business than his mother. Iman feels she knows her role and has not spoken with the new designer since he came on board. Iman missed the promotion and learned that she could have taken the initiative to know her boss well and learn his expectations.

Related: 5 Tips To Boost Your Career Growth For Professional Success

13. Find a new point of view

Failure gives you a fresh perspective on situations. Consider failure as an opportunity to look at the same situation in a different way. By acknowledging your feelings, practicing self-care and evaluating your steps, you have a better vision for how to move forward. Learn the lessons that failure presented. Put together these lessons to form a new plan of action when the next opportunity arrives.

14. Take action

If you want to take action, it is important for you to challenge yourself by doing things that you are not comfortable doing. Change is possible if you remain open to it. Write your goals and set your focus on the next achievement.

Related: 13 Steps To Be Successful In Life: Tips And Advice

15. Shift the focus

Rather than spending a lot of time thinking about your failures, consider shifting your focus to how failure leads to success. While this is neither easy nor enjoyable, it can offer you the necessary drive to aim for the next target. Assess where you are, what you want and how you plan to get there despite setbacks.

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