John William Tuohy lives in Washington DC

Failure is what we allow to happen.

Failure is what we allow to happen.

The theme of my life is get back up after I’ve been knocked down, to bounce back from inevitable failure. I’ve been knocked down a lot over the years and I’ve in the process I’ve learned a thing or two about the subject so here’s my advice; Learn to survive failure
Failure services a purpose. For one thing it confronting failure directing and not by protecting ourselves from it gives us self-confidence that lasts. Confronting failure also teaches us how to survive failure.

It’s a lesson worth learning because the possibility of failure in everyday life is tremendous. Each time we reach out to another person its risk, the risk of involvement. To love someone is to risk not being loved in return. When we feel passionately about a cause we risk hope. When we strive for anything, large or small, we risk failure.

Still in all, risk is good because the only other option is to have an empty live …no hope, no joy, no love….we also end up with nothing worth having because of the path we’ve chosen to take by living a life filled with discouragement,  bitterness.  A life without trust, a life without vision and dreams. And perhaps all of this has happened to us because we have failed at surviving failure.
We fail at surviving failure because our concept of what failure is. It took me four decades to understand this simple fact…. failure is not a circumstance. Circumstance in a person’s life are often beyond their control. Nor is failure determined by life mistakes like a failed marriage, an addiction and so on. Life circumstances and life mistakes just happen and people bounce back from them all the time. Rather it is how we respond to those two things that determine failure.  We fail when we give up in the face of poverty, loneliness, anger, drugs and so on. We fail when we let circumstances control us instead (After you’ve got up off of the canvas) to control them.

Don’t fail at surviving failure.  Have a happy and successful life and learn how to handle failure because your response to failure determines your destiny.  Virtually every great person in the history of the world has failed and what made them great was that they learned how to come back from failure. They understood that failure means nothing and that their steadfast refusal to accept failure as a permanent condition means everything. In the words of Winston Churchill, "It is the courage to continue that counts."

Learn to bounce back and understand that bounce back doesn’t have much to do with blind optimism. Rather the key in bouncing back is to fully experience your feeling in any situation, good or bad and put them in prospective. In other words one bad day is not the end of the world and one great day won’t mean much a day later. They are just feeling about something. Control them and don’t let them control you.

Be an optimist but realistically optimistic. Learn to combine the positive outlook of an optimist with the critical thinking of a pessimists. Banish negative what-ifs. They only lead to fear and will hold you back. Create enough negative what-ifs and you can talk yourself out of anything including all of your dreams.

Don’t accept the situation for what it look likes. Be creative. Have as many back up plans as you can to face any situation…including walking away.  But remember that owning up to failures and coping with thier aftermath will force you to come up with new ideas and strategies that might work the next time….and there WILL be a next. Remember it’s a learning experience. Setbacks and challenges can be our most powerful learning opportunities.

Build a social support system to help you get back up again. Have people you can talk to.
Stay positive. Successful people are positive people they take notice and appreciate the hundreds of miracles that we come across in the course of a day. Find the positive and tap into it. Count your little victories because acknowledging you’re little and seemingly insignificant victories will keep you from deciding that “Everything that can go wrong has gone wrong” because that’s an overreaction and it never happens. Embrace the almost, the near win, especially if your just starting out because it takes decades to create a masterpiece.  

Be grateful and practice gratitude because among other things gratitude boosts your mental health and well-being. 

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