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Get Back Up When You Fall Down: How to Overcome Failure

With all that has been going on over the past year or so, many of us have been “falling down” in so many areas of life and business.

When you fall, do you get back up right away?

When you fail, do you learn from it and take it as an opportunity to grow?

Many of us, myself included, struggle at times with learning from our failures. We sometimes give up as soon as we fail, not realizing that what is necessary is to push a bit harder until we reach a breakthrough.

How to Get Back Up When You Fall

Have you ever seen a small child learn how to walk? If you have, you know what a remarkable experience it is.

I’d heard about this but had never witnessed it until Samantha, our now fifteen-year-old daughter, took her first steps when she was just over a year. She and I were playing in our family room one night, and although she’d taken a step or two here and there and could get around okay while holding onto an adult or a piece of furniture, she hadn’t really “walked” yet.

That night, I held her hands and pulled her across the room with me as she took some steps. I decided to let go to see what would happen. I did, and she took a step or two and then fell, face first, on the soft carpet. She was fine. She looked up at me, and although she couldn’t speak yet, she made it very clear that she wanted me to pick her up so she could try again. I did, and this time when I let go, she took about four or five actual steps and then fell. I screamed, “You did it!”, started clapping wildly and yelling for my wife Michelle to come into the room.

Michelle came running in. Samantha and I went to the far end of our family room. I held her hands to steady her, started walking with her across the floor, let go, and then it happened – she really walked – across the room, by herself. When she fell, Michelle and I were so delighted and moved, we both burst into tears and joyous laughter at the same time.

Samantha, so proud of herself, began to shriek with excitement and to clap her hands as she was lying there on the floor. And, of course, she wanted to get back up and go again.

Moving Through the Ups and Downs of Life

We all know how to do this – fall and get back up. Assuming we know how to walk, which most of us are fortunate enough to do, we went through this specific and miraculous experience ourselves when we were very small.

We’ve also gone through it in a figurative sense many other times as we move through the ups and downs of life, especially recently. The question isn’t whether or not we’ll fall; the question is will we be bold enough to get back up again?

Remember: it’s okay to do it wrong. Too often, sadly, we fall or make a mistake, and then decide we can’t get back up. Boldness is about having the courage, willingness, and commitment to get up when we fall – even if we’re scared or don’t think we can.

Resisting, complaining, or even feeling sorry for ourselves about the “bad” things that happen is normal and what we’re often encouraged to do by people around us and our culture in general – whether we do it out loud with others or just in our heads.

However, while understandable, these things don’t address the real issues, the emotions we’re experiencing, or make things better for us.

Let Your Challenges Become Opportunities for Growth

Facing difficulties in our life can be incredibly beneficial – if we choose to allow our challenges to be growth opportunities.

Below is a list of some things to appreciate when we “fall down” in life. Obstacles, failures, and challenges can:

  • Give us important feedback about where and who we are

  • Provide an opportunity for us to be courageous

  • Allow us to wake up and notice all the good things that are happening that we hadn’t been paying attention to

  • Give us an excellent opportunity for learning, growth, and improvement

  • Allow us to learn to appreciate ourselves, even when things don’t turn out exactly as we want them to

  • Give us an opportunity to get in touch with, take responsibility for, and express our real emotions in an authentic way

  • Challenge us to play bigger, make adjustments, or rethink our approach

By learning to see our challenges as opportunities, we take our power back from situations, circumstances, and outcomes in our life.

Our ability to appreciate difficulties, learn from them, and use them to our advantage, gives us an important insight into who we really are and how to create success and fulfillment in a conscious, deliberate, and authentic way.

Being bold, going for what we want, and living with authenticity doesn’t in any way mean we won’t fail, struggle, or fall short. If we aren’t failing or facing any challenges at all, it’s probably a good indication that we aren’t playing all that big in our lives.

Failure is a Key Part of Success

Failure isn’t the opposite of success, it’s a part of success. It teaches us about resilience, courage, growth, and support. Failure is a stepping stone to achieving all of our goals.

Every time you fail, there is a 100 % chance that it will teach you something. It is vital to use failure as a teaching tool to improve yourself and your skills, whether it be about decision-making, problem-solving, or more.

Many people associate failure with defeat, but it’s crucial to change your mindset about it. By learning and growing from our failures, we thrive, step outside of our comfort zone, and gain new perspectives.

Failure is ever-present in life - from the moment we take our first steps to our present life. It helps us grow and makes us stronger. It also allows us to learn from our weaknesses and develop our strengths.

Everyone fails, and everyone reacts to failure differently. We need to make peace with the fact that we will fall many times throughout our journey. However, when we commit ourselves to get back up, dust ourselves off, be honest about how we feel and what happened, and not let it stop us from being who we are and going for what we want - we tap into what true power, boldness, and authenticity are all about.

As Mark Twain reminds us in one of his many famous quotes,

“Dance like nobody’s watching; love like you’ve never been hurt. Sing like nobody’s listening; live like it’s heaven on earth.”

Where in your life have you recently fallen down? Have you gotten back up yet? If so, great – acknowledge yourself. If not, what will it take for you to get back up, learn from the experience, and appreciate yourself in the process? Share your thoughts, ideas, insights, actions, and more directly on my blog.

I have written five books about the importance of trust, authenticity, appreciation, and more. I deliver keynotes and seminars (both in-person and virtually) to empower people, leaders, and teams to grow, connect, and perform their best. As an expert in teamwork, leadership, and emotional intelligence, I teach techniques that allow people and organizations to be more authentic and effective. Find out more about how I can help you and your team achieve your goals today. You can also listen to my podcast here.

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This article was published on December 2, 2010, and has been updated for 2021.


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