One of our greatest fears is failure. The possibility of failing is terrifying to the point that we abandon many important activities to avoid it. We are frightened of humiliation, disappointment, letting ourselves or others down, and worst of all, ruining our reputation.

But the reality is that not everything we do ends in success. The Divine design of creation includes failure as part of human growth. With the proper perspective, failure can even become a catalyst for greater progress and improvement.

Here are five ideas to consider:

Not producing a desired end result does not always mean that we have failed1) Definition of success. In today's world, success is defined by outcome as opposed to effort. If you have invested tremendous effort but do not achieve a visible, measurable, dramatic outcome, you are deemed a failure. However, the Jewish definition of success is very different. It is not defined by any outcome but rather by effort, hard work and internal improvement and progress. Our tradition states clearly that reward for Torah study is not for those who cover the most material, but rather for those who apply themselves with sweat and toil. Not producing a desired end result does not always mean that we have failed; rather, the solid attempt and effort is itself our success.

2) Failure does not make us bad people. At the foundation of every person exists a Divine spark of infinite goodness and purity which is totally independent of ones accomplishments and achievements. When we are unsuccessful in a particular project, our essential goodness still remains intact.

3) Failure is a learning opportunity. I once heard that in the early days of IBM, a computer programmer accidentally cost the company a million dollars. When summoned to the board room, he was certain that his career had come to an end. Before the top executives, he had to explain what happened and what could have been done to avoid this mistake. When he finished, he was sent back to work, his job intact. In response to his surprise, one of the top executives commented: "We just spent a million dollars training you, we can't fire you now." Failure is a unique opportunity to learn to be stronger in the future.

4) Failure does not negate previous achievement. Someone who walks for an hour yet is still several kilometers from his destination is still closer to his goal than before. We cannot discount our accomplishments to date. Failure is only a temporary learning experience. We recover, get up and move on.

5) Make it a catalyst for real growth. Constant success and happiness can also result in limited growth. We become comfortable with ourselves and are unable to break out of our own little worlds. Sometimes failure can break the shell of our comfort zones to allow us to take a giant leap into something new. We are forced to rethink our strategies and goals. It becomes an amazing opportunity to change direction. A seed planted in the ground must disintegrate before it can become a blossoming tree. Sometimes routine must come to an abrupt end, giving us the opportunity to reach new heights.

So don't be afraid of failing. If it happens, welcome it and use it to reach a new level of development.