How to Fail Successfully (+3 Failure Archetypes)

Written by Gilberto Rosas on August 22, 2016

3 min  read

“The most successful people are the one that have made the most mistakes”

There are 3 kinds of people when it comes to failure:

Those who fight. Those who flee. And those who freeze. 

One thing I’ve always wondered is what really makes the difference between these three if they had experienced the same failure? Similar to how the same boiling water can soften a potato yet harden an egg, the circumstance is not the determining factor but rather the individual.

So I decided to write this article not only as a compilation of my observations but really more so as a reminder to myself as to what category I want to be in. Hopefully this serves you as a form of motivation and an opportunity for reflection.

Let’s get better together, here we go…

Now you might be thinking of your goal and what you want. For quite some time now I’ve always been interested in the difference between those who  achieve massive success in life and those who don’t. Here I’ve outlined the three types of people when it comes to the subject of failure.

The Inactive

These are the ones who have not started and don’t plan to. Of this category, some believe that good things come to those who wait and although good things may come to those who wait, it’s only those things left behind by those who hustle as the great Abraham Lincoln once said.

You might recognize these people as those who don’t take any risks and as a result don’t move forward. They find it much more comforting to stay in their current circumstance no matter how unfortunate it may be. They are the ones who don’t bother competing or achieving.

They gave up a long time ago and made the decision that they were not meant to achieve greatness and as a result that has become their identity. Their fixed mindset holds them captive in an opaque prison where they cannot even imagine the possibility of acquiring wealth, optimal health, or the love they desire.

This is perhaps one of the worst positions to be in and can be the hardest to get out of.

The Reactive

We all know that one friend that swears it’s not his fault that he’s in the same situation again. It’s probably that friend you stopped hanging out with because he’s always being negative and you decided you’d be better off not hearing about how life is being unfair to him, again.

This person can be categorized as the one who complains about failure….all the time. They make excuses as to why they couldn’t do it and why it’s someone else’s fault instead of theirs. It is almost as if they’ve mind washed themselves to believe that the world is out to get them and nothing is their fault.

This is also the person that claims to “already know that” and as a result is not open to learning new things. New things that can help that person grow. They are stuck in a stage of personal development known as unconscious competence which is the situation in which an individual doesn’t have the skill or mindset to improve an area of his life and is unaware that he can cultivate such a skill to improve himself.

It is only when an individual reaches the next step in this progression known as conscious incompetence that he realizes that he sucks at a certain skill BUT he knows that he can improve it and this is where he is eligible to become the Proactive.

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen”

— Michael Jordan

The Proactive

These are the people who understand that failure is an opportunity for growth and learning and because of that, they are the ones who are not only willing to fall flat on their face but deliberately look for opportunities to do so. They implement what the most successful people call failing forward.

As a rule of thumb, remember that the results you see are directly proportional to how fast you learn. The way you learn is through your mistakes. Therefore, fail BIG and fail often. One way to do this is by having failure goals. As outlandish as this may seem, stick with me here as I explain. By actively failing, you learn at rapid speed and you become desensitized to the feeling associated with failure. You become immune to it and as a result, you are able to push through mistakes and gather all the lessons in a relatively short amount of time.

To conclude this post I just want to say that we’ve all been in one of these categories at some point in our lives. I myself was the inactive and I firmly believed that I wasn’t that kind of person who takes action but more of a spectator. Sadly, I accepted this as my reality not knowing that all of us have the potential to make things happen and we weren’t meant to sit idly by and watch as other “get theirs.” I can also distinctly remember being the reactive and blaming others for my situation like my parents and constantly complaining and projecting negativity when really I should have used all that energy for something that would benefit my life. I now find myself taking more actions towards my dreams than ever before but by no means am I preaching to always be the idealistic Proactive. I have much work to do and sometimes I do find myself wavering from time to time. It takes time to build up to massive action but Proactive is still a worthy ideal to work towards every day bit by bit.


Let me know your thoughts.
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