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Can failure and setbacks actually be our best guide in life? In the light of the disappointment thousands of ‘A’ level and GCSE students will be experiencing at the moment - the answer to this question for many will almost certainly be ‘No’!

Those of you having to re-think further education/training or career choices may want to give vent to your angry derision …. ‘You’ve no idea what I’m going through!

But you would be wrong! The failures I’ve experienced in various stages of my life have been many and varied: when I’ve been prepared to listen they have told me something useful. If I’m honest, the message was very rarely “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again.” Sometimes I gave it another go - or two - but then it was usually time to try something different: somewhere different: using a different skill set. It was the process of learning to pick myself up and start again that helped me to strengthen my resilience muscle!

You are not defined by your failures - what defines you is what you do next.

Failure has the power to redirect your life. It has in mine. The opportunities to listen & learn from setbacks and failure have been many - disappointing exam results were just the beginning! There was frequent paternal disapproval, the tragic death of my brother leading to my Mother’s mental breakdown and my own panic attacks, overwhelming work demands leading to a bad dose of 'Imposter Syndrome' being but a few.

But the truth is I’ve learnt far more from these setbacks than from the successes. Every failure can give us the opportunity to sift out what’s not working and focus on finding the nuggets of gold - no matter how small. Life is too short to obsess about ‘what might have been’ or ‘if only…!’

In the USA’s Silicon Valley “Fail fast, Fail often” is the new populist message - but it’s only useful if it leads towards a better direction for our strengths and talents. Maybe in the midst of current disappointing results you are unable to see that there is an alternative [better?] road ahead. There is another truth you can experience: your current failure will build your resilience when you start looking for that ‘even better’ road. Begin by focusing on what you love doing and listening to what people consistently say you are good at. Search about for alternative doors and open one or two or even three until you see or experience something which will excite and motivate you.

Keep looking. Don’t give up. The first door you try may not be the right one - but the second or third could be. You can choose to gain new insights from each and every setback. James Dyson did - he spent 15 years creating 5,126 versions of the Dual Cylcone vacuum cleaner before he found one that worked. So how are you going to use your failures, mistakes and setbacks?

At times life can feel like a car crash [see the video!] It’s how we get out and move on that matters. Why would you choose to stay with the results of the crashed car if there's a way out? Find that way. Focus on what you can do with your strengths and skills. How can you acquire new ones? You've heard the saying ‘Where there’s a will there’s a way’ - so what’s your way forward? What will you do today to begin to move towards your better future?

You may have to face several crashes in your life. Are you going to allow each one to strengthen your resilience and resolve?

Your best life is just ahead. What are you waiting for?

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