If the thought of your biggest mistakes or failures makes you want to throw up, you’re certainly not alone. That’s how school teacher Jessica Lahey still feels when talking about the first draft of her New York Times best-selling book.
“My editor said it was unpublishable and wanted to bring in a ghost writer,” says Lahey, who wangled a second chance, and after a lot of hard work, redeemed herself—and her writing.
Though the book is called The Gift of Failure, Lahey kept this story to herself for a long time. Now she shares it to help other writers who are struggling. It’s also a great example of how you can grow from failing.
“I felt bad about myself, of course, but I didn’t let that get in the way of hearing what was wrong and what I needed to do to fix it,” Lahey says. “I wanted to write my book—and I was able to because I was willing to open my mind and learn from my mistakes.”
Here, Lahey shares three facts about failure that will help you survive it—and thrive:
#1. Failure is when the best learning happens.
“When you succeed, you have no need to regroup, reassess, approach things from a different angle. But doing these things is how you learn—and as a result, how you become competent and develop the emotional wherewithal to deal with frustration. The key to learning from your mistakes is to focus on the process—what worked, what didn’t—and not on the product.”
#2. Women take failure more personally than men.
“When a woman fails, she tends to think, ‘I’m a failure.’ But most men don’t do that. They’ll think, ‘that was a failure.’ We should all view our mistakes as external to us because it’s hard to fix yourself.”
#3. It’s important to own your failures.
“There are these beliefs in our society that bestsellers come out of thin air and that either you’re good at something or you’re not. So we don’t admit to our failures, let alone talk about them. But if you don’t own your mistakes, you can’t learn from them. And if you don’t tell your story, other people might—and you may not like their version.”