How to Reframe Failure

How to Reframe Failure

dealing with failure Feb 23, 2021

by: John Cunningham


Who among us has never felt the temporary sting of failure?


I didn’t see any hands go up. Failure happens to all of us. Rather than accepting defeat, embrace it as a challenge. When you accept failure as part of the process to reach success, you are moving further away from what doesn’t work and closer to what does. This is an opportunity to reassess, reframe and retry. A reporter asked Thomas Edison about the large number of setbacks he encountered as he was inventing the incandescent light bulb. His reply was, “I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”


That we should all have such persistence in the face of repeated challenges.



Toil through the emotions associated with failure. Then, reassess the situation. The previous experience will present you with questions that need to be answered in order to surmount your previous setback. Using this analysis will improve your ability to achieve success. As JB mentioned in Episode 4150 - Sticking With It When Things Aren’t Working, there are opportunities to learn all around us.


JB was playing golf with people who all have single digit handicaps. They score in the high 70s and low 80s for 18 holes. During a series of bad holes, JB noticed a big difference between their strategies and his. His observation was that they all have pre-swing routines. Watching the other players, he discovered the next step of his development was to create his own. Keep listening to MorningCoach® to see how that helps him.


Applying this to you, ask the following five questions:

  • Why do I think I was unsuccessful?
  • What did I learn from this?
  • What surprised me?
  • What are some things I could have done differently?
  • Where can I get some additional knowledge?


This query will help you to look at the challenge in a new way and propel you forward.


“Losers quit when they fail. Winners fail until they succeed.” ~ Robert Kiyosaki



Now that you have gained some insight to overcoming your setback, it’s time to reframe the problem. You are not the same person you were going into the last attempt; You’re wiser. Use the knowledge of what doesn’t work to get closer to what does.


To reframe, you need to look at the situation as if you are seeing it for the first time and from your new perspective. Now that you know what you know, how would you solve the problem? Create a new plan and, if necessary, new metrics for success. 


Something I am careful of when preparing for my next attempt is not to make too many changes... Even if it means I need to do a longer series of trials. Introducing changes one at a time allows me to more quickly understand what works and what doesn’t. That technique may help you too.


“It is all a matter of perspective, it really is.” ~ JB Glossinger



Now you have a new perspective and a new plan, it’s time to try again. This won’t necessarily be an immediate attempt, but the opportunity will arise for you to challenge your previous failure. At some point you’ll need to jump back on that horse. 


Meet this opportunity with optimism. If you succeed, you will move on to the next challenge. If you fail, you’ll increase your understanding of what doesn’t work and why. This kind of thinking sets you up for making progress, regardless of the result.


“You don’t lose if you get knocked down; you lose if you stay down.” ~ Muhammad Ali


At the end of the day, failure provides the opportunity to relearn ideas you did not fully grasp the last time around. It also presents a chance to develop in areas that were once unknown to us. Consider failure as part of the process, expect it, plan for it, and fight through it. Reassessing, reframing, and retrying will turn your failures into successes.

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