Defeat and Failure Can be Managed With These Key Mindsets

John Krautzel
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Whether it's bombing a string of interviews or losing a major account, everyone has to deal with failure at some point. Although you can't undo mistakes, learning to cultivate a success mindset can help you bounce back faster when you feel overwhelmed or defeated. Try these simple tactics to change how you view failure and stay motivated when facing challenges.

Accept the Situation

The longer you try to deny a defeat, the harder it is to move forward and look for a new solution. Take responsibility for your actions, and be honest with yourself about personal decisions that contributed to a problem. The point isn't to criticize yourself, but to avoid directing bitter, unproductive feelings toward other people when it doesn't help the situation. A success mindset requires focusing on the present, rather than wallowing in the frustrations of the past.

Quiet the Fear

Overcoming fear is one of the hardest parts of recovering from a setback, as it's easy to convince yourself that everything you do ends badly. First, give yourself a break. Chances are, your mistake had consequences that seem calamitous in the moment while your emotions are still raw and intense. Reflect on who you are as a person and the good choices you have made in the past. Most likely, you have survived mistakes before, and those moments of defeat didn't have any significant lasting effect on your personality or ability to succeed in life.

Have a Positive Outlook

The key to a success mindset is understanding the difference between failing and being a failure. Mistakes are a natural part of doing something new, so you have to accept the possibility of failure to grow and learn. When you falter, avoid making negative generalizations about your character or abilities. Instead, approach challenging situations with a success mindset, remembering each misstep brings you closer to the right solution.

Focus On What You Gained

As hard as it is to admit you did something wrong, failure often has an upside when you focus on what you learned. If a situation goes exactly the way you planned, you aren't forced to think deeper and come up with a unique solution. Let the emotions from a defeat fuel your curiosity and creativity. Think about the new information you have now and the advantage it offers. Immediately putting your mind to work on a fresh problem is an effective method of overcoming fear, as your renewed sense of purpose distracts you from the disappointment.

Ask for Feedback

Dealing with judgement from peers can make it harder to maintain a success mindset and let go of past mistakes. Address the situation right away to ease the tension and feelings of resentment or guilt. If your actions had an impact on other people, apologize and consider asking what you can do to make the situation better for everyone. When your blunder is relatively minor, just acknowledge it and move on. Groveling only opens the door for people to heap on blame that may be misplaced.

Staying upbeat when you really want to run and hide isn't easy. Failure is unavoidable at times, and people who harness their imperfections are better at achieving great results. Bring a success mindset to everything you do to continually adapt and evolve after facing obstacles.

Photo courtesy of Sira Anamwong at


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  • JOHN E.
    JOHN E.

    Points noted.

  • JOHN E.
    JOHN E.

    good ideas.

  • JOHN E.
    JOHN E.

    sounds brilliant.

  • Chandra M.
    Chandra M.

    I want to grow from my past. To do this, I have to let go of some people who hold me back. I did that and I am not bitter but feel better. They were hampering my growth. I look to the future with a better way of thinking. This article was very helpful.

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