In this busy world of the 21st century, we often find ourselves with our backs against the wall.
Life is fraught with difficulties and stress. Nothing seems to go the way we planned and obstacles spring up no matter how well we thought out our steps to success.
One of the biggest mistakes we make is to not take advice. Believe it or not, others have been there and found ways to navigate the road to success, whether that road is in this world or in the Hereafter.
Brendon Burchard, the motivational speaker and author, offers us several ways to turn failure into success and defeat into motivation. His ideas are based around the fact that people, no matter what their circumstances, need to be grateful and need to give back to the world through service.
Almost 1500 years ago, another man taught something very similar and we can use Burchard’s motivational words to ponder the advice we were given by this man, Prophet Muhammad.
How to Learn from Defeats and Failures
Failure is part of being human; suffering defeat is something that everybody goes through. However not everybody knows how to accept defeat gracefully and move on. Moving on to success is only possible if we become more resilient and find a way to turn failure into motivation.
Brendon Burchard tells us that when we feel defeated we must not struggle against it, rather we must accept the outcome. It is ok to feel disappointed, but we must try to move past that and shift into learning mode.
We cannot learn from our defeats and failures if we beat ourselves up, feel sorry for ourselves. This is acceptable for a short period of time, an hour, or a day, or perhaps even longer under dire circumstances. But do not keep telling yourself that you did badly or that you are bad. Instead, accept that it is time to learn something new that will help you along the road to success. You need to sit down and take stock of the situation by asking yourself four questions.
- What did I learn about myself?
- What did I learn about other people?
- And what did I learn about the world?
- What can I do now?
Lessons from the Prophet Muhammad
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was a man that went through many difficult times. Although the final outcome, the resounding success is what we focus on, he was faced with many situations that would have defeated him if he did not have faith in God and the ability to learn from his difficulties.
Humankind has no better role model than Prophet Muhammad, therefore when we sit down to analyze our situation, we could add two more questions.
- What would Prophet Muhammad do in this situation?
- What does God expect me to learn from this?
We must remember that Prophet Muhammad lived the Quran. He did not just memorize it in order to tell others, he tried to apply it to his everyday life.
When faced with difficult times, Prophet Muhammad almost certainly pondered what God expected from him. God tells us in the Quran that we will be faced with difficulties. We will certainly be thrust into situations that make us feel defeated or like a failure.
Do people think they will be left alone and they will not be tried?… (Quran 29:2)
Do you suppose that you will enter Paradise untouched by the suffering endured by the people who passed before you? They were afflicted by the misery and hardship and they were so convulsed that the Messenger and the believers with him cried out:
When will God’s help arrive? (Quran 2:214)
It is important to understand that these difficult situations happen by the will of God, and although they might feel like a defeat or a disaster, they are neither. They are a means to success or they are a lesson. They may even be a reward, but perhaps we may not recognize without the help of hindsight.
Nothing will befall us except what God has decreed for us. (Quran 9:51)
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 2:155-157)
In the early days of Islam, there were many problems and difficulties. When the Prophet saw his followers starved and tortured, he must have felt like he had failed them, and that his mission far from being a success seemed to be doomed to failure.
However because of his faith in God, he knew that these problems had to be faced and that he had to learn something from them.
When things got so bad that many of the new Muslims could stand no more, he sent them away to Abyssinia. This was not defeat, nor was it failure, it was a chance to regroup and try different tactics. It was a chance to ponder and learn lessons and make different plans.
Prophet Muhammad knew that no matter what difficult situation a person is forced, by circumstance and the will of God, to endure it will not last forever. We are able to move past it with difficulty or with ease, but it will come to an end. Therefore, why not use the period of difficulty to learn something about ourselves and the world in which we live?
Verily along with every hardship is relief, verily, along with every hardship is relief. (Quran 94: 5-6)
Brendon Burchard reminds us that focusing on the defeat or failure will not benefit us in anyway. Rather, it must be used as a stepping-stone to greater understanding of our ultimate goals. He suggests using defeat as a way of rising to another level.
Prophet Muhammad reminds us that although we might be faced with setbacks and dire circumstances, everything that happens to a Muslim is good for him or her.
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)
Do not focus on the things that went wrong and spoiled your plans, move forward with joy in your heart and thankfulness for the new beginnings God has ordained for you.
(From Discovering Islam’s archive.)