Failure is not a taboo word. Although no one likes to fail, failure helps us grow. In fact, it’s when we fail that we grow the most.
Failure lets us see things differently and learn new ways to solve a problem. You can choose to tackle an obstacle the same way or differently. Even if you fail multiple times, each failure is not exactly the same. There are various parts you completed successfully, which you didn’t succeed at before — even if things didn’t go as planned. You learn something new each time you try. Eventually, if you keep at it and incorporate the steps you completed successfully, you’ll succeed in reaching your goal.
The same is true for the scholarship application process. If you didn’t win the last round of scholarships you applied for, review what happened and try again.
Here are some things to look for…
- Maybe the scholarship was too competitive? Is so, tweak your process, and try scholarships that are less competitive. Try scholarships through your college or those in your local community.
- Did you submit the application on time or miss the deadline? If you missed the deadline or barely made it, make a mental note to prepare earlier. If you wait until the last minute, you may encounter technical glitches that push you behind.
- Did you meet all the scholarship requirements? Scholarships are sometimes awarded to other applicants who meet all the eligibility requirements, rather than just a few.
- Did you check your scholarship for errors and submit all the requirements? It never hurts to review one of the applications or essays you submitted and see what possibly went wrong. You can also follow up with the donor to get feedback a few months after the deadline.
So, how many times should you fail?
There is no set number.
When you fail, it means you’re still in the race. Think of a child who’s learning to walk or ride a bike for the first time. He falls several times before he learns to ride on his own. Or think of a child who’s taking her fist step. Her parents cheer her on, not judging her previous mishaps. There’s no judgment, just elation and pride. The same is true for you! It just takes time.
But how do you stay motivated when you’ve failed repeatedly and want to throw in the towel?
1. Know that everyone experiences failure at some point in life.
This includes well-known inventors, celebrities and heroes we look up today. Let’s look at a few:
Jack Ma Yun
Jack Ma Yun is the co-founder and creator of Alibaba, a Chinese multinational e-commerce giant. He failed multiple times before achieving success. He applied for different jobs and was rejected 30 times. He was the only one rejected for a KFC job with 24 applicants, and also the only person rejected when he tried to join the police force. When Jack applied to Harvard Business School, he was rejected 10 times. Today, Jack’s net worth is over $25 billion.
J.K. Rowling, author of the popular book series, Harry Potter, faced many obstacles before achieving success. Rowling stopped working on her book when her mother died. She became extremely depressed and moved to Portugal to teach English for a year. Her goal was to finish her book while there. However, she fell in love and got married. The marriage didn’t work out, and she moved back to England with her baby girl. She was left raising her daughter alone and living off government assistance. Rowling didn’t give up on her dreams and continued writing. She sent her manuscript to 12 major publishers, and each rejected her. Just when she started losing confidence in her book, an editor at Bloomsbury Publishing decided to finally give her a chance. Rowling’s book was an immediate success. Today, she’s the world’s richest author with a net worth of $1 billion.
The legendary Michael Jordan, the best basketball player of all time, experienced failure too. He’s missed over 9,000 shots in his career and lost almost 300 games. In his own words, Jordan says, “Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” When Jordan was 15, he tried to join the high school team, but didn’t meet the minimum height requirement. His best friend went ahead, but he had to wait a couple more years to qualify. While he waited, he rejoined the junior basketball team and practiced relentlessly until his game was above the rest. Today, Jordan is a Presidential Medal of Freedom and multiple-MVP winner.
Apple pioneer, Steve Jobs, made several mistakes along the way. He dropped out of Reed College after six months because he thought college was too pricey. He focused on a calligraphy class, which gave him ideas for the typography of the first Mac. He co-founded Apple, but was later fired because of a power struggle with the board. Jobs didn’t let that stop him. He bought Pixar Animation Studio and founded NeXT, a computer and software company. NeXT wasn’t as successful as Pixar and the software wasn’t widely accepted. When Apple was struggling in 1997, they bought NeXT and incorporated some of the technology into their products. This brought Jobs back into Apple as an advisor. He later became acting-CEO and then CEO.
2. Know that you only fail when you give up altogether.
Every time you try, you’re one step closer to reaching your goal. The reason why others have been successful is because they didn’t give up. Sometimes, you may need an extra hand to help you reach your goal. The extra hand may come in the form of a mentor, taking a class, volunteering, or attending a workshop. Just keep trying.
3. Look at failure with a new set of eyes.
Looking back, you’ll realize how much you’ve learned and how much you grew when you failed. It feels horrible when you’re going through the problem, but once you surmount it, you feel accomplished. What’s more, you can teach others how to surmount that obstacle too.
All in all, failure isn’t as bad as it seems. It’s just what we need to refocus and eventually succeed.