How to Flip Your Failure

Excerpt from “Beyond Barriers: How to Unlock Your Limitless Potential” by Nikki Barua

Despite your dream and all of your well-constructed plans, one negative experience can tempt you to give up. Nobody enjoys failing, but if you spend all of your effort trying to avoid failure, you might just avoid success in the process.

Keep taking risks, no matter what happens, because risks are necessary on the road to success.

Failure Is Feedback

Reframe every failure as a learning opportunity. Think of your failure as feedback. It’s a data point that tells you what doesn’t work. It’s a course of action you can cross off your list. Now you know what not to do, so you’re free to try something different.

The faster you learn, the faster you can pivot toward success. Let’s say you are presented with a decision that has eight different possible approaches. You try one, and it fails. That just means you now have seven options left. The more often you fail, the closer you get to the one thing that works because you’re eliminating all of the things that don’t.

One advantage of failure is that it produces a strong negative emotion, and negative emotions tend to create lasting memories. As strange as it sounds, vividly remembering a negative experience is more beneficial than remembering a positive one. Why? Because you’re more likely to retain what you learned from the experience and apply it to future actions, making success easier to achieve over time.

Dealing with Constant Failure

My company, BeyondCurious, provides consulting services to large, multi-billion-dollar corporations. However, in the beginning, things were much different. When I was new in this business, I had no brand, no clients, no case studies, and almost no capital. That made it very difficult to gain the trust of large corporations.

Every day I reached out to numerous people, and every day I got rejected over and over again. However, through sheer persistence, I eventually had the opportunity to meet with executives from a major corporation. They invited my company to place a bid for some work, so we submitted a proposal. We made it all the way to the final round, but at that point, they told us our company was too small, too new in the marketplace.

My team and I felt dejected, but we didn’t allow ourselves to give up.

From Failure to Success

Each time we failed, I asked them for a follow-up meeting so I could obtain feedback. I wanted to learn from our failures. The first time we lost a bid was quite painful, but we felt far more resilient the second time. The third time, it didn’t bother us at all. We kept at it. In fact, we failed 11 consecutive times, and after every failure, I asked for a follow-up meeting. Through those meetings, I learned what we could improve, as well as what we’d done right.

Each time, we applied what I’d learned. By the time we reached the 12th bid, we had narrowed the gap between their expectations and our solution, and finally, on that 12th bid, we won. We’ve never looked back. This company was the first major client to hire us, and we’ve been successful ever since.

None of our incredible success would have happened if we had given up after the first, second, or even the 11th rejection.

Increase Your Rate of Failure

Be clear about the outcome you desire. I knew we had to get a large company to hire us so we could do great work and earn their advocacy. Earning their endorsement would put us on the map and give us credibility with other large corporations around the world.

I had connections to the right decision-makers there. I could see the pathway. If I’d given up, I would have closed the door to our best opportunity, so moving on never seemed like an option. Instead, I learned, adapted, and improved until I succeeded.

As long as you’re clear about the outcome you want and why that outcome is important, you should never give up. Keep learning and improving and changing strategies until you achieve the outcome you want.

Learning to Flip Your Failures

The series of questions in this exercise will help you flip your failures, turning them into learning opportunities that contribute to your long-term dream.

First, what is a failure you flourished from? Recall a time in your life when a failure led to some kind of personal growth, an instance where, afterward, you said, “I’m glad I failed because if I hadn’t, I would not have learned a lesson that helped me succeed.” Document this failure.

Second, what did you learn from the experience? Think about what this failure taught you. As you write it down, try to include details so you can see how much value you received from this failure.

Third, how did this failure motivate you? Determine why you kept trying, because in figuring that out, you will discover the driving force that keeps you going. Some motivation kept you resilient and made you tenacious after this failure because you kept striving. What was that motivation? Finally, how did you grow as a result of this failure? Maybe it made you a better, stronger person. Maybe it taught you something that helped you later in life. Maybe it gave you enough clarity to make wiser decisions.

Of course, it’s also important to consider the downsides to failing. How long did it take you to recover from this failure in your life? Maybe it took only a short amount of time to bounce back, or maybe it took far longer. If you’ve recovered and come out the other side, what drove that timeline? Did you hold onto the negative feelings? Could you have recovered faster if you’d dealt with the aftermath differently? How might you have benefited even more?

Hopefully, with this exercise, you can flip your failures, learn from them, recover faster, and flourish.

Excerpt from “Beyond Barriers: How to Unlock Your Limitless Potential” by Nikki Barua. For more information, visit:

Nikki Barua is a change agent with a big mission to unlock people’s potential through ideas, inspiration, and tools for transformation. She is a successful entrepreneur, speaker, and advisor who helps business leaders gain clarity of purpose and certainty of outcomes as they lead their organizations through change. She is the CEO of BeyondCurious, a digital transformation consultancy that partners with large companies to unlock innovation and growth. Barua has been recognized as a top female entrepreneur and has been featured in national media including Fortune and Forbes. She is the author of “Beyond Barriers: How to Unlock Your Limitless Potential.”


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