How To Fail Upwards

One of society’s biggest fear is failure. We’ve been brought up in a world where we’re supposed to see failure as bad and success as good. Do you ever feel like this? That you’re so frightened about what will happen if you fail? I used to feel the same way about lots of things in my life, until I changed my perspective.

In this post, I want your perception of failure to change. I want you to understand that failure isn’t something to be ashamed of; it shouldn’t be lid to your success.


Why Do We Hate Failing?

So I guess we have to ask the question, why do we hate failing? It sounds obvious, right? We hate failing because it’s not success - and if we’re not successful in what we become ashamed and embarrassed about who we are. We start to gain low self-esteem.

I think the main reason why we hate failure is because of the society we live in. The world will tell us that if we don’t make something of our lives then we’re not important or special. Some people see failure as the worst outcome because this is a learnt reaction to failure.

I’m not going to slate my School or the School system - well maybe just a little. When I was at Secondary School, I remember thinking to myself that most of people running the School (not the teachers working with myself and other pupils) only cared for what I can give them; successful grades. The better the grades the better the School.

I remember thinking that I shouldn’t bother trying to do well in my exams because the fear of failing was so sure. I ended up not revising for my exams and not answering a lot of the questions so I could have some control over my failure - it was something that I owned. I think the fear of trying to do my best and not being good enough was crippling to me, so I didn’t even bother.

You see, we’re taught from such an early age that failure is bad, and we should stay away from it at all costs and to strive and do our best to be successful. Being taught this from a young age gives us the wrong perspective on what we get through failing.


Focus On The Positive (Things You’ve Learnt)

I remember the day I read a book that talked about failure, it’s changed my life forever and if I could remember the name of the book I would. It was an amazing Christian book talking mainly having the “it” factor.

This book taught me that when we fail we have an opportunity to learn something and own that learning process. Think about it, when we fail something the cause of it is most likely down to lack of knowledge and understanding. So when we fail we get to see where we went wrong and correct it for the next time.

I always get asked the question on how I’ve managed to set up a successful design business without going into design School/College. My only answer to this is by failing upwards.

From every mistake I made I would analyse what went wrong and where I can improve for the next time I do that task. This is what I’ve learnt to do when I fail - understand what went wrong and how can I do it better next time. When we look at failure in the light we see that it’s not about success, it’s about gaining experience.

Do you ever get that feeling that you want to achieve something, but you don’t feel like you can because of the fear of failing? Well, take this from me - change you perspective. Force yourself to look at you situation in a way that no matter what happens you’ll get something out of it. Don’t think because you didn’t get the expected end result that you’re not going to get anything out of it. Look at what you did right and look at what you did wrong, then make changed for the next time you give it a try.


Don’t Dwell On The Negative

Another reason you may feel fear towards failing is because we’re naturally looking towards to the negative aspect. What if I told you that you don’t have to look at the negative aspect as negative? It’s true! When you’ve failed a task or when something goes wrong it’s entirely possible to look at the situation from a stand point of good and grow.

The good and grow method of analysing what went wrong is a great way of not labelling things as negative. I use this method all the time when I’m working, always trying to get better in what I do. I’ll sit down and write on paper what I thought went good and I’ll also sit down and write out what I think we need to grow in. This way I can turn something from negative to positive by just facing what I need to grow in.


Fail Towards Your Goal

We all experience the gut wrenching feeling of failure. It’s nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed by but it’s something we can take value and experience from. Just remember: It’s better to fail than to never start.

I like to see myself as a person that is continually failing towards my goals. I know that when I’m doing something new and exciting that there’s a very real possibly of failing; I probably will fail. But as long as I’m moving towards to the goal, failing towards the goal - I’ll get to where I need be.



Thanks for reading, I really appreciate you taking your time out to read this over. I hope that you take some of this timeless information with you on your journey! I truly believe that this can change your outlook.

For more information about who I am and what I do click the links below.


Will Paterson.