On the challenging feat of inventing the light bulb, Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” That sounds pretty good on paper, but in reality, repeat failures can be tough.
A reliable way to cope with failure is to have a repeatable process; a framework that you can cling to and follow in your moment of despair.
Rule #1: Make yourself feel better first.
When bad news strikes, our minds can go into overdrive. How did this happen? What can I do? It is important to know that you are probably emotionally off-balance, and almost no good decisions come from that state. Therefore, the first thing you should do is make yourself feel better. This works differently for different people. Some need to plunge themselves into routine work and accomplish something. Some need to watch a film to get their mind distracted. Some need to go boxing and vent in a proactive manner. Whatever it is that works for you, do it and get yourself back in emotional balance.
Rule #2: Don’t burn bridges.
Nothing makes people lose respect for you faster than when you lose your composure. Your failure is a result of your actions, no one else’s. Don’t blame other people or outside circumstances. Keep your communication civil at the very least. Once the initial disappointment is gone, you will feel better knowing that you conducted yourself well in the face of failure. This leads to the third rule.
Rule #3 Transform your mindset, then learn.
Once you have made yourself feel better and avoided burning any bridges, you will feel like you handled yourself with grace. That in itself is a small victory. Build on that momentum by taking any actions you know are necessary. The most cited, and most important action, is to learn from your failure. There are always gems to be found in the ashes, once you are in the right state of mind to find them.
To make this work for you, simply write down the thing that reliably makes you feel better so you don’t have to think of something on the spot. Remember to conduct yourself with grace, then when you are ready, find the gems of insight waiting to be found.