by kevinli, August 11, 2015 , In Life

Learning how to react to failure

One way to make a set of circumstances into an ordeal is to respond with stress and anguish. No, our reactions and feelings cannot be mastered and completely predictable (nor should that be the goal), but keeping a cool and even head is the first step to staying in the battle, persevering, and learning from mistakes.

Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.  – Vincent Van Gogh

A bad trip after failing is especially troubling if you’re building a website. It can lead to sloppy code, undocumented style, and decisions based on “just get it done!” instead of problem-solving. Such an attitude practically guarantees shoddy work and a lowered bar for your design.

With the need of stock photography for a wide variety of reasons ranging from designers who need an image for their work, to ad agencies creating a magazine ad, to television stations using it in their commercials, to bloggers using it for their main post image, even to individuals who are looking for stock photos to use in a personal project, stock photography has taken off and its usage is becoming more commonplace.

Denial, or blaming those who fail to see your genius

Forest

Ah, denial, that bitter tincture with immediately placating and, eventually, very complicating effects. Denial, as well as blame, is a strategy that distances oneself from the present circumstances, shirking responsibility, or placing it on another’s shoulders.

Denial is a self-serving defense mechanism. A good first step at overcoming denial or blame is to encourage honesty and openness with those who have pointed out your strikeout — what are the specific reasons for it? How can you adjust and do better? What have you learned?

As described in the e-book Web UI Best Practices, empathy works both ways: with users and with other stakeholders. Think about the position your critics are in, then ask them questions about how to better serve the user goals. That will help you filter personal opinion from valid feedback.

Sulking, then overcoming

Failure to meet the parameters, expectations, or desires of a particular role or action (such as a design project) is way different from failure as a person.

Yet so often, criticisms or bad news in one’s professional performance can be hard to neatly distinguish from self-worth. The underlying mistake is a confusion of the person and the action. Though this sometimes comes down to how criticism is communicated, the underlying principle remains: never doubt your capabilities.

Even if sulking eventually turns into improvement, it can be mentally exhausting to waste your time in a pit of self-pity or a ditch of self-doubt. Avoid all holes and low-lying areas, for that matter. David Kelly (founder of the design agency IDEO) gives an inspiring lesson on building up yourcreative confidence (“stick to the process, trust your creativity”).

On the other hand, don’t just forgive and forget. Communicate, converse, and learn after failing, always.

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