That’s what failure does to you. IF you don’t actively try to convert it into success.
Have you ever felt failure crush you completely from the inside? Look around you.
You’ll find many travelers riding the boat of failure, some sink in the deep dark waters of hopelessness while others float gracefully basking in the sunlight.
So which one are you? Are you a sinker or a floater? Either way, I’ve got 7 powerful strategies that will help you not only float through your failures gracefully but fix the broken boat and sale off, meaning- convert your failures into successes.
How do you convert failure into success as a Muslim?
Failure can hit us from many different directions- failing exams is just one of them. Maybe your relationship with your family is failing, or you’re failing financially. You could be failing in your career, in your personal life or in your spiritual relationship with Allah S.W.T.
The good news is- there’s a complete guidance in the Quran for all of us Muslims struggling with failure.
Here’s where it gets real- even our Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. was not safe from hardships. But he converted those hardships into successes. He (S.A.W) was a winner through and through. So we have plenty to learn from him.
1. Trust in Allah’s plans for you
When you fail at something or a hardship falls on your shoulders, the very first lesson from the Quran for you is TAWAKKUL: trust in Allah’s plans for you.
When misery from a failure is eating away at you, recall this one Ayah and let it start the therapy:
Say: “Nothing will happen to us except what Allah has decreed for us: He is our protector”: and on Allah let the Believers put their trust.” (Surah At-Tawba, Ayah 51)
Maybe you didn’t know what was going to happen. But Allah KNEW. He still let it happen anyway. He has a plan for you. You may not like the way things are right now but you need to trust Him.
Perhaps you hate a thing that is best for you, and you love a thing that is bad for you. Allah knows, while you know not. [Quran, Surah 2: Ayah 216]
2. Accept that you failed (it’s harder than you think)
Now that you have put your trust in Allah S.W.T, think about this: Have you been justifying your failures and blamed them upon the circumstances or other people? Or are you in denial that you even failed?
You might not know this, but accepting failure is probably one of the hardest things to do.
Imagine this: You grew up believing that you are good at something. You were proud of that all your life. But when you put your talent to test in the real world- you failed. Not once, not twice but every time.
Do you think accepting that YOU actually failed would be easy? Of course not.
You will come up with a million reasons as to why the environment (the weather was really bad), your competition (everyone else cheated), the circumstances (I was feeling sick)- basically the entire world was against you and didn’t want you to succeed- that’s why you failed. Not because you aren’t actually good at “the thing”.
True acceptance is downright HARD. But it’s also very humbling.
And at the end of the day, that’s what Allah S.W.T wants from us. He wants us to become humble servants.
The servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say words of peace. (Quran: Surah Al-Furqan 25: Ayah 63)
So do yourself a favor and accept your failures.
It doesn’t mean you give up on your dreams or lose hope in Allah.
It only means you internally accept that you failed and are open to talk about your failures rather than hide them in the deepest darkest corners of your heart. Because if you don’t accept your failure, then you won’t be able to learn from them either.
Which brings me to the next strategy…
3. There’s a lesson to learn from every failure
We may put our trust in Allah S.W.T but simply shrug off failure like dust and move on without learning anything new.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it is that these leading experts and powerful personalities of the world are always growing. They have an aptitude for growth and embrace failure with open arms.
If they can do it for these worldly returns, why can’t we? Muslims have an even bigger reason to learn and grow. They have an Akhirah to worry about!
Allah S.W.T has clearly told us in the Quran that we will be tested. Sometimes these trails and tests from Allah S.W.T can appear as failures to us.
Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe,” without being put to the test? (Quran Surah 29: Ayah 2)
We have tested those before them, for God must distinguish those who are truthful, and He must expose the liars. (29:3)
Other times, these failures and hardships that appear to us as trials from Allah S.W.T are actually the consequences of our own evil deeds.
Anything bad that happens to you is a consequence of your own deeds, and He overlooks many (of your sins). (Quran Surah 42: Ayah 30)
A smart Muslim knows what was a test from Allah S.W.T and what was the consequence of his own doing. And in both situations, there is MUCH to learn. Evaluate and reflect upon your failures deeply. Then come up with at least one lesson you learned.
Now I have 2 questions you should ask yourself when it comes to overcoming failure and actually learning something from it:
- What does Allah S.W.T expect me to learn from this?
- What would Prophet Muhammad S.A.W teach you to do in this situation? What lessons from his hardships can you use to deal with yours?
Another way failure can take over you is by instilling in you a fear: The fear of failure itself. A fear that will do everything in its power to stop you from growing.
4. Don’t let the fear of failure stop you
3 QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU OVERCOME THE FEAR OF FAILURE
- You aren’t perfect. The way you do things is not ideal. BUT, What would you do ideally?
Let’s suppose I want to give a public talk to teach young Muslims about self-improvement. My fears could be: What if no one attends the class? What if I don’t deliver a valuable lecture? What if I mess up real bad? So many “what ifs” standing in my way of growth. All sprouting from my internal fear of failure.
Now I imagine an ideal-me would do this: I would put in the effort to prepare the best lecture I can, give the talk and if only a few people attend, I will give them so much value that it would leave an impact on their lives. How’s that for ideal?
Once you’ve imagined what you could possibly do in an ideal situation, go DO IT. You just showed yourself what you are capable of doing ideally.
2) Imagine the worst possible outcome. What is the worst thing that can happen?
I’m sure no matter how horrible the outcome appears in your head, there are FAR WORSE things that are happening in the world.
Our failures and fears are all entwined around things like career, relationships and society etc. REAL hardships are those that involve lives- maybe even the loss of lives.
When we compare our problems to those of oppressed Muslims today, everything falls under perspective.
There were Muslims during the times of the Prophet S.A.W who were tested so much that they cried out:
When will God’s help arrive? (Quran Surah 2: Ayah 214)
Aren’t you in a much better situation?
3) Now imagine the best possible outcome. How rewarding is it?
When the fear of failure is blocking your way to success, imagine the rewards that will fall in your lap if you went through with it. What is the best that can happen realistically?
I’m sure it will be worthwhile to at least try and give yourself that chance to succeed.
Or else, you might have to live with the regret of never trying. And living with regret is much worse than living with failure.
5. Is it abnormal to be grateful for your failures?
When you have covered the first steps of dealing with failure: Tawakkul, Acceptance, Learning and Overcoming fear- now it’s the time to truly ascend to the next level of maturity- GRATITUDE for all your hardships and failures.
This is when you KNOW you have grown. Only a really mature (both mentally and spiritually) Muslim can feel gratitude and praise Allah (S.W.T) when faced with failure.
We shall certainly test you by afflicting you with fear, hunger, loss of properties and lives and fruits. Give glad tidings, then, to those who remain patient. Those, who when any affliction smites them, they say: “Verily, we belong to God, and it is to Him we shall return.” Upon them will be the blessings of their Lord, and it is they who are rightly guided. (Quran Surah 2: Ayahs 155-157)
If Allah S.W.T is testing you with hardships and failures, it’s a GOOD thing. Allah (S.W.T) wants you to grow closer to Him through these failures.
When we bless the human being, he turns away, and drifts farther and farther away, and when he suffers any affliction, he implores loudly. (Quran Surah 41: Ayah 51)
Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) said: How wonderful is the situation of the believer, for all his affairs are good. If something good happens to him, he gives thanks for it and that is good for him; if something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience, and that is good for him. This does not apply to anyone but the believer. (Muslim)
So be grateful to Allah (S.W.T) and know that He wants whatever is the best for you.
6. Failure allows you to fail- It’s LIBERATING
We enslave ourselves to our own expectations as well as the expectations of our parents, peers and society. We have grown up molding ourselves around such terms: “perfection”, “being the best”, “from among the toppers”.
Failure liberates you from living up to the rigid mark that has been created by others for you. Failure allows you to fail. Failure gives you room to breathe.
And as for the judgments from others? Let it be known to yourself that only those who are deeply afraid of failure judge the failure of others. And you, my friend, should shove their judgments aside and continue to ascend.
7. Make Allah (S.W.T) your support system
We all NEED emotional support during difficult times. Make Allah (S.W.T) your support system and you will glide through. Remember Allah (S.W.T) truly cares about your ultimate success- more than you care about yourself.
“If Allah helps you, none can overcome you: If He forsakes you, who is there, after that, that can help you? In Allah, then, let believers put their trust.” [Quran Surah 3: Ayah160]
No matter how huge your failures appear to you right now, true failure is giving up on yourself and Allah S.W.T. And that’s not another thing you say to console yourself- it’s the plain truth.
We also seem to forget that Allah (S.W.T) does not only inflicts us with hardships…
Verily along with every hardship is relief, verily, along with every hardship is relief. (Quran 94: 5-6)
At the end of the day- You only have TWO options:
The first option is to take your failure and spiral downward in a cycle of depression, anxiety, grief, letting those negative feelings control your further actions.
A study conducted among students revealed that failure impedes concentration so much so that it can damage future actions. Another study showed that dwelling on failure makes you really unhappy and impairs your performance.
So it’s a vicious cycle. Dwelling on failure and taking the dark road of coping with failure further stunts growth and leads to more failures.
The second option is to to convert failure into success using the coping system above.
The choice is yours.
And Allah (S.W.T) knows best!