If we live past a certain age, we have known failure. Failure helps us discover what's really important. It teaches us lessons we might otherwise have never learned. It imparts a wisdom that's hard to come by.

Billionaire J. K. Rowling is a brilliant model of failure and success. The author of the much-beloved Harry Potter books, she was before Harry came along, a single mother living on state benefits. In her 2008 commencement speech to Harvard graduates, she cautioned their rosy futures with two powerful statements:

1) "Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it," and

2) "It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have have lived at all--in which case, you fail by default."

What does success mean to you? The quality of the relationships you have with every person in your personal and professional life? The number of people you love and who love you? The serenity you enjoy from being at peace with yourself? The joy you find in your spiritual life? The pleasure you find in your creative endeavors? The definitions are very individualized.

Today's economy has given people who never saw it coming a good dose of failure. Being conscientious and hard-working proved not to be enough. We say that failure can pay off in learning, growth and wisdom. Some psychologists, like the University of Virginia's Jonathan Haidt, say it may actually be necesary to experience adversity, setbacks and even trauma for people to be happy, successful and fulfilled. There are many anecdotes floating around about wildly successful people who credit their accomplishments to earlier failures that pushed them to the edge of the abyss.

"I have failed over and over and over again, and that is why I succeed," said Michael Jordan--as did Oprah, Walt Disney, Henry Ford, Winston Churchill and Thomas Edison, in different words.

How to Deal With Failure

Don't let failure destroy you. It can make you or break you. Work to have it make you into a phoenix rising from the ashes.

1. Don't lose your sense of humor. Don't take yourself too seriously. Try to look down the road and at the big picture.

2. Never think of yourself as a failure. Remember that you are a good person who made a mistake you can learn from.

3. Cultivate optimism. Of the seven learnable skills of resilience--emotional awareness, impulse control, multiperspective thinking, empathy, the believe that you can solve your own problems, taking appropriate risks and optimism--the most important is optimism, says Karen Reivich, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania. "There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so," said Hamlet, and indeed, a positive attitude goes a long way to lessen failure's sting.

4. Getting fired or laid off may not be all bad. It also means that now you are free to something more meaningful with your life. You can pursue a dream that you have had for years or take a trip to some place you've always wanted to go.

5. Keeping a journal can help you cope with failure. Writing helps us find coherence and make sense of things. We also get in touch with our feelings and come to terms with them.

6. Don't blame yourself. That's how depression begins. The more depressed you get, the more you blame yourself.

7. Failure is an opportunity to change course. Seize it.

8. Let go of the past and live in the present.

9. Big losses provide the biggest opportunities for change. They make a person more open to trying new things.

10. Accept the setback. Know that setbacks happen to everyone. Realize that you may never fully understand what happened.

11. Face your fears. Don't hide from them and avoid uncertainty.

12. Be patient. Reflect and make your plans, but don't rush.

13. Go beyond your comfort zone. Take risks.

14 Know what you want. Set your goals.

15. Don't be a victim, be proactive and a problem-solver.

16. Focus on one step at a time, not the entire undertaking of what you must do next.

17. Seek support. Take to friends, family or a therapist.

18. Be kind to yourself. Disappointments are a source of stress, so exercise, eat right and get plenty of sleep.

Author's Bio: 

"My aim is to inspire you to overcome life’s challenges and move forward with strength and renewed vigour". How can I help you to achieve this? By applying the knowledge I have garnered from my extensive specialist studies in NLP, Life coaching and hypnotherapy, and by sharing the compassion and understanding I have gained from having successfully overcome my own personal challenges.