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8 Things to Do in the Midst of Failure

How to Deal with Failure and Loss

We have all dealt with faliure and loss at some point in our lives. Maybe it was the loss of your job?  The loss of your business? The loss of something that you believed should have been  successful, but it wasn’t.

A loss brings a lot of pain with it. As a result, we want to hold on even after the thing has failed.

The question is: how do we deal with failure and loss?

"Failure is hard, but it doesn't have to defeat you"

“Failure is hard, but it doesn’t have to defeat you”


I am no stranger to loss. I have lost relationships, friendships, and jobs.

Recently, the organization that I was a principal at decided to shut its doors.

It was a difficult time in my life.

I believed that we could have made it.

What I believed did not matter, because what I had to deal with was all too real.

The closing of the school was a painful time in my life. The people that involved  experienced pain. The owner experienced the greatest amount of pain because this was her dream.

She was attacked by parents and teachers. She was under a lot of duress. Her pain was magnified. Her dream was dying and there wasn’t anything she could do about it.

We cannot brush someone’s pain aside. You have to acknowledge the pain and learn what to do with it.

[bctt tweet=”We cannot brush pain aside. You have to acknowledge the pain and learn what to do with it. ” username=”jim_Burgoon”]

I had learned a lot during this time about navigating through a painful loss.

 8 things to do when you are facing loss and failure

1.    Let it die

You cannot resurrect what was meant to die. We have the thought that everything in life must live. Animals die to ensure we have food. People die when their time comes. A dream dies when a person tries to control it.

So when something you have given your life to is dying and you sense it’s time has come. Then let it go. It’ll be painful, but there is nothing you can do to revive it.

2.    Don’t hold onto false hope.

The saddest part of this situation was the constant attempt to hold onto false hope. There comes a point when you KNOW that no matter what you do the thing will still die. The quicker we can face reality the quicker we can move on and be the healthiest version of ourselves.

3.    Grieve the loss.

You grieve for the loss of a loved one. Why do you think you wouldn’t grieve for the loss of a job or the loss of your dream?  When you are emotionally invested in something you will go through the grieving process. You feel like a faliure. You start to feel lost, angry, and very emotional. Accept that. Walk through the process. Grieve the loss.

4.     Communicate what is happening very clearly.

One important thing that I have learned with the school closing is that you have to communicate everything clearly. When information is withheld or information is absent people suffer.

No one is happy when they lose a job. No one is happy when they lose anything. It is almost as if a piece of ourselves is gone. We feel hollow and lost. These are normal feelings. We just want to know what’s next.

Clarity is king.

The more I can communicate the more I can remove people’s fears and offer them closure. The greatest gift you can offer anyone is clarity that leads to closure.

[bctt tweet=” The more I can communicate the more I can remove people’s fears and offer them closure. ” username=”jim_Burgoon”] [bctt tweet=” The more I can communicate the more I can remove people’s fears and offer them closure. ” username=”jim_Burgoon”]

5.    Be compassionate and graceful towards others.

It is increasingly easy to be mad and take it out on someone. It is even easier to treat someone poorly due to our own internal struggles.

The key is to walk in grace. To live our lives in such a way that offers people compassion and love in the midst of trying times. Even if we are the ones in pain. I know this sounds counterintuitive. The truth is there are a lot of people in pain. Lashing out with my own pain and withholding compassion only complicated the problem.

[bctt tweet=”Live your life in such a way that offers people compassion and love in the midst of trying times.” username=”jim_Burgoon”]

6.    Respond to people appropriately.  Do not react to their raw emotions.

If I had a dollar for every time I reacted to someone I would be a wealthy man. A healthy person responds appropriately. They do not allow other’s emotions to dictate their own emotions.

Respond don’t react.

While I sat back and watched the director tell everyone that the school was closing emotions were high.  Their emotions rebounded and our director became even more upset. This quickly led to an emotional situation where nothing was being handled appropriately. Thankfully no one yelled. I just realized that we would not have proper closure.

 7.    Don’t place blame and accept responsibility

We all want to blame others for what is happening. It is very hard to accept blame. As a leader, we must accept that blame.

As the school was closing the director sat with me. She said one of the main reasons that the school was a failure was that no one was loyal to her.  That statement is a sad testament to a leader who had lost hope.

When blame is passed so too is the ability to salvage the situation.

[bctt tweet=”When blame is passed so too is the ability to salvage the situation.” username=”jim_Burgoon”]

8.    Have a plan to move on.

Life happened. Things were lost. People were hurt, but Life moves on. We all were affected by the situation, because the school closing was hard. Parents, students, teachers, and administration were all hurt by what happened.

My director is a sweet woman. Very caring. I am grateful to her for the opportunity to lead.

She sat weak eyed and tired. Her words, “We are closed.”

We were told that there was a plan to move on, but the plan was never shared.

I feel like I am stranded on an island with no hope of escape when there is no plan.

If you want to bring closure, offer healing, and help people transition then have a plan.  Even if it is a bad plan. A bad plan is better than no plan at all. You at least have something to work with.

[bctt tweet=” The hardest thing in life is the feeling of being stranded with no plan to move on. ” username=”jim_Burgoon”] [bctt tweet=”A bad plan is better than no plan at all. You at least have something to work with.” username=”jim_Burgoon”]

Life will keep moving on. Hurt is inevitable. Failure will occur.

What will you do when it happens?

How will you handle it? Question: What are some things that has helped you heal from the failures that you have experienced? I would love for you to join the conversation! Leave me a comment!

About the Author Jim

  • Iona says:

    Jim I attended a 12 week inner healing class and this is where I found out that I had not grieved losing my career as a police officer and was in denial about my injury. I felt like I was a huge failure and disappointment to my kids, husband. I lost my job in 2012 when I suffered my spinal cord injury and shortly after was dealing with PTSD and depression. That class helped me to be able to grieve those losses and got me out of the denial stage into the acceptance stage. I prayed and journaling was a relief for me. I’m someone who loves to serve others when I am in pain. Helping people during my failures or storms is therapeutic for me. I also met with a therapist to help me deal with my failures. Great read! Thank you Jim’

    The second thing I failed at was my marriage . When I got divorced I felt like a complete failure to God.

    • Jim says:

      Thank you Iona for your realness! Failure is a part of life. In fact, failure is needed for us to be truly successful. My heart hurts when I hear someone go through the level of failure that you have experienced. However, I am overjoyed knowing that you have overcome a lot of that failure. What I find is that we personalize the failure. We take it on ourselevs. If could be a pride thing. It could be stubborness. What I find is that the more we take on the greater the reflection it is to our own unhealthiness. I applaud you for all the hard work and effort that you showed to get you to a place of healing!!

  • Awesome, love it. Thanks!

  • Chanel says:

    My mom has help me get through a lot of failures big or small. My last failure, hurt to the core. Jim, you helped me. My faith has flurished and is stronger then ever. I’ve learned how to handle it all and work through it with God by my side insead of trying to handle it on my own. Like I’ve always done in the past. The great ladies at the Well church has helped me as well. And of course some retail therapy.
    I have never put some much passion and trust into God and making my relationship with him more powerful in my life. You helped me redirect my hurt, lack of trust, hatred, bitterness, loneliness, ect toward the one that can take all that away and make it good again… And for that i thank you my friend.

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