By Kirsten Anderson | Founder, Equitas Solutions

I believe failure is underrated. I want to give it a positive shout-out and remind everyone that it is something we all have in common and have experienced. Whether it is a big or small failure, it is something that can define us and determine how we live our lives. Amazon lists over 20,000 books with "failure" in the title, so there is plenty of content and opinions on the subject.

Our response to failure can make or break us, and I confidently admit that it is an amazing character-builder. Most think of failure as negative, shameful and embarrassing; however, I urge everyone to think about it in a different, positive light.

Failing at something is one of the best opportunities to grow and learn. I now embrace failure and confess that it was a long journey to arrive at this declaration! Do not get me wrong, it is a very hard pill to swallow when you know you have failed at something and you have to admit it, get through it, and move on. Just thinking about experiencing the feeling of failing gives me stomach cramps. 

The fact that failure elicits in me an emotional response, as it does in all of us, is powerful and I do not want to forget that. That negative feeling has helped me move failure into a more positive light in my life -- to learn and grow from it.

I no longer look at failure the same way I did a decade ago because I am resigned to the fact that it will occur in my life. I have failed enough times that the sting of embarrassment hurts less and less each time. My reaction to failure is one thing I can control in a situation, and I choose to look at the positive lessons learned. Failure is, in all respects, a learning experience. It is an opportunity for discussion, new perspective, renewed optimism and reassessing goals. Failure is ultimately good for character, good for building relationships, and good for a deeper understanding of ourselves.

Do not overthink failure. Instead, ask yourself these questions: How do you view failure? How are you recovering from failure? How can you view failure more positively? The answers to these questions will help move you forward in life in a way that is destined for success. Thomas Edison famously said: "Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." 

Kirsten Anderson is on a mission to end workplace harassment through education. She found herself an unlikely advocate for those facing harassment in the workplace after she took a stand against her former employer: the state of Iowa. On May 17, 2013, she was fired from her job as communications director for Iowa Senate Republicans after filing her fourth complaint about repeated harassment and retaliatory behavior by staff and lawmakers at the Iowa Statehouse. She sued the state of Iowa and Iowa Senate Republicans for wrongful termination, harassment and retaliation, and won. Anderson has a degree in broadcast journalism and is a 2008 Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute graduate. She’s president-elect of the Central Iowa chapter of the Association of Women in Communications and in her free time enjoys sharing the hilarious random things her 8-year-old son says and attending any live music show with her husband. She can be reached at Kirsten@KirstenAnderson.org.