We are all brought down by our own failures at times. We miss a great opportunity, or we try to make a move without enough preparation or information, or we’re tired or simply unable to complete the task we’ve set before ourselves. We all fail.

If you’re like me, you might be very disappointed in yourself when you don’t succeed. You go over the same scene again and again to see exactly where you went wrong. You replay different scenarios about what you could have done differently and what would be the result. You stay with it until you drive yourself crazy.

There’s nothing wrong with the self-examination and picking apart what things you could have done instead. The problem is stopping there and never moving out of the failure and into something else. The urge is often to stay with the failure and bemoan the terrible thing that has happened to us or our lack of whatever we perceive to have been the cause. It’s easy to get stuck in that space for a very long time. It’s easy to let our failures define us and limit us. We say we “can’t” do something because we didn’t do it well last time. We sometimes don’t event attempt to try again.

In reality, transformation only happens when we fail. Think of something you’ve done well the first time you tried, something you never did before and with the most basic of instructions you executed beautifully. You probably felt like a champion. When something comes naturally to us, we just do it. Often, we can’t understand why others don’t do it well or why they’re afraid to try something that seems quite easy to us. We don’t have to take the time to learn each step over and over again until we get it right. But if we have a natural ability to do something and rarely make mistakes, we never learn, either.

When we just do something well, we never have to plan for contingencies or find the way to work around a problem. When we fail, we have the perfect opportunity to figure out the why and how of a situation. We gain first-hand knowledge about the world around us and how we are both affecting it and being affected by it. We get to be beginners and learn with new eyes the things we thought we knew so well.

When we look at a failure as an opportunity to improve our performance and get it right, we get to learn so much about ourselves and the process it took to get us there. We learn to be more gracious to others when they are new learners. We have empathy and compassion for others when they are failing, and we get the opportunity to help them reach their goals like we have reached ours. This is when our best selves come shining through.

So fail. And sit with it for a while until your figure it out. Then go out there and do it again – and again- until you succeed. You’ll appreciate everything you learned along the way.

“Mistakes are portals of discovery.” – James Joyce