Failure is a word that, usually, carries a negative connotation. Nobody wants to fail, really. But failure, if you’re doing anything worthwhile, is inevitable. What’s important is to plan for failure, learn from it, try to avoid damage and do your best to recover gracefully.
Whether you’re creating “the next big thing” or attempting to perfect the ultimate recipe, humans desire success.
When people think of success, they are usually talking about hefty profits and minimized costs, dreams realized and the sweet smell of victory. Certainly financial growth is a desired outcome. But one definition of success is much more modest. It literally means a result or outcome. Thus, if success is not necessarily a positive, then it stands to reason that failure is not always a negative. What’s key is to address failures, learn from them and move on to what comes next without dwelling on it.
Most people deal with failure in one of two extreme ways. The first, made popular in the early 2000’s, is “fail fast, fail often.” At the other extreme is the notion that “failure is not an option.”
2 Approaches To Failure …
Those that adopt the second extreme immediately instill fear and anxiety into their everyday life. The idea is then if failure is not an option, then you must succeed with everything, all the time. You can’t take risks or try anything new. There is no way that you will agree to make serious decisions. You always seem to play things safe. The next thing you know, you have built a stagnant life with low engagement.
It’s Not The Fall That Hurts …
In embracing failure, you understand that the best way to learn what’s possible is to take risks. My baby nephew understands this well. When he wanted to move, he started by pulling himself up any way he could. He failed repeatedly, using a body that he couldn’t yet fully control. Eventually he learned a better way. Our job, as adults, was to let him fail without shame or reprimand. Likewise, you must adopt and embrace failure as part of your culture and recognize that it’s not only OK, but something to be celebrated.
“…you can fail at something you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance doing what you love.” ~ Jim Carrey
Failure Can Be Fun? …
Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes as a failure, but the world is more than willing to give you a set of criteria if you let it.
What are the benefits of failure? Simply put, failure means stripping away the inessential. Stopped pretending to be anything other than what you are, and began to direct all your energy into finishing the things that matter most to you. Just think about it … if you had succeeded at anything else, you might never have found the determination to succeed in the one area you truly belonged … your greatest fears will have been realized, and best of all, you’re still alive!
Remember not to compare yourself to others … you might never fail on the scale someone else did, but that doesn’t mean your failure is less impactful than theirs. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you technically fail by default.
Failure has given me an inner security that I would have never attained by any other means. Failure has taught me things about myself that I couldn’t have learned any other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was indescribably priceless, and a few whom I misjudged the importance of. Without failure, this knowledge would not have been imparted upon me. The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift … never forget that.
7 failures you need to experience in order to be successful in life:
A Failed Serious Relationship
If I had to pick a single moment in my life that had the greatest influence on the person I am today, it would be the failure of a relationship.
Not only because it was with someone I loved more than anyone before (or after), but because I was the one that caused the relationship to fail.
Relationships fail all the time — most of the time it isn’t our fault. You’ll never appreciate a meaningful relationship the way you should appreciate it, until you manage to screw up a great one.
It’s easier to brush yourself off and move on with your life when the other person was clearly to blame. When you only have yourself to blame, you learn lessons that stick with you. And this requires admitting you were the one that ruined the relationship… but that’s a different story.
A Failed Friendship
It takes time to understand and appreciate the relationships you have with different people in your life. It’s not just the romantic ones that teach you important life lessons, but also the relationships you have with your friends.
Just like there are toxic romantic relationships, there are also toxic friendships. Once you experience a falling-out with a friend, you understand yourself a little bit better and the life you hope to lead.
It’s most often the company we keep that determines the life we live.
A Failed Career Choice
I’ve never met or heard of a single individual who figured it out the first time. If you’re going to find your passion in life, you’re going to have to spend a whole lot of time figuring out all the things that aren’t a correct fit.
If you’re still holding down the first job you’ve ever had, there’s roughly a 99 percent chance you’re not doing what you ought to be doing, and an even slimmer chance that you’re not doing something that you LOVE. Maybe you’re that one-in-a-million statistic who got lucky, but most people need to go through some trial and error first.
It’s usually less about figuring out what you’d like to do and more about what the world has to offer and what you can have to add to it.
A Failed “Healthy” Bank Account
If you’ve never been broke in your life, you’ll never understand the importance of money. It just isn’t possible. Sure, you can understand it conceptually, but you’ll never know how it feels to figure out how to score a free meal, or the agony of asking someone close to loan you money, or how stressful it is to be buried by credit card debt and student loans.
Being broke at one point in your life or another — hopefully sooner than later … not only gives you an appreciation for money, it gives you an appreciation for how little you money a person actually needs to get by.
Most people are wasteful when it comes to spending money. They overindulge and live their lives “beyond their means”. Even worse, such individuals never have an appreciation for the simple things in life. Money becomes their main motivator … sad, but true, always trying to throw money at happiness, but never manage to figure out you can’t buy happiness. Happiness is not a destination, it is an adventure.
A Failed Attempt at Greatness
Regardless of your definition of greatness, unless you fail at achieving it repeatedly, you will never appreciate your actual accomplishments.
If you don’t have to struggle to win, to succeed, to be great, then can you even call it greatness? It’s the struggle and all it takes to overcome the seeming impossibilities that we, as human-beings, find awe-inspiring. If it comes easy, then it isn’t worth any praise.
Keep in mind the difference between failing to be great and failing to even attempt being great. You learn a lot from trying your very best and realizing your very best isn’t good enough — yet. You learn absolutely nothing, however, from never giving yourself a chance to fail.
A Failed Understanding of What’s to Come
The reason human-beings landed on the top of the food chain is primarily due to our ability to predict the future with accuracy. We understand the relationship between cause and effect better than any other species on the planet, and it’s made all the difference in how the world evolved.
It takes time to develop this skill. We observe and learn the moment we’re born (technically, shortly after) until the moment we die (theoretically, perhaps even beyond the grave).
We often forget how important it is to observe. Most people rely on superstitions and hope, which is amusing, as we were much better observers during our toddler years than we are as adults (which has a lot to do with our attention spans).
Those of us who understand there’s always something new to observe, always something new to contemplate and calculate, are the ones who usually get furthest in life. The more complex the scenario, the more difficult it is to calculate the outcome.
In all honesty, we can only predict the possibility of an event occurring. But it’s all you really need — most of life is a gamble anyhow.
The most important lesson to be learned from anything written above, is that failure is ALWAYS an option … without it, we fail to learn and fail to truly live.