How many times have we said or heard that? How many times have we mentally translated it to, “It won’t happen.” Or to, “I would try but it’s not going to work anyway, so why bother?”
We don’t try. We do it or we don’t.
When we do, sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail. We learn equally from both. Knowing what doesn’t work is equally important to knowing what does.
When we succeed, we either succeed in whole or in part. In whole success is where we achieve our intended goal. In part, we get closer to our intended goal or a part of it but not all of it. What some fail to appreciate is that success earned in part is still success, and it often can be the more lasting kind of success. Either way–in whole or in part–if we’re moving closer to our goals or achieving them–we are enjoying success.
Then there is failure. Never has anything been so misunderstood as failure. People treat it as if it is a bad thing. As if by failing, we should feel inferior, our esteem should be shot. That’s a very narrow view, and it can be destructive to us, our goals and aspirations. That view can kill dreams.
But only if we let it.
Instead, take a broader view. One that captures the big picture…
Sometimes we pursue a goal that isn’t aligned with what we most want or need. If we get it, then we’ve altered the course of our personal history. That might be okay. But it might not. Failure can spare us in this way and in others. Helping us to chart the best possible course for us.
I have failed often at many things. But I cannot say that any attempt wasn’t worth the effort. I can’t say that I didn’t gain something during the process of making that effort. And I can’t say that after the failure I wasn’t changed by having experienced it.
I gained some knowledge, some insight, some benefit from making the attempt. And any time you gain something–even if it’s painful or hard–isn’t that success?
If you’re wiser, more attuned, more capable of a stronger attempt in the future, then wasn’t the attempt in that regard successful?
My point is that if you’ve changed in a positive, constructive way, then where is the failure?
Often in life, we want what we want and we want it right now. But just as often, we don’t know exactly what we want. Often, we can’t tag our wants specifically until we go through some experience or some event that sets a fire in our bellies and puts us on a path for which we have a true passion.
There are times when it takes a few incremental steps to find your passion. A leads to B which leads to C and then D–and there it is. And with the clarity of hindsight, you look back and see little snippets in your life that lead you exactly to this point and you wonder how in the world you missed them. How you didn’t see the pattern and the puzzle pieces falling into place.
Of course, that’s the clarity of hindsight. If you had seen those things before you encountered them, you’d be hailed as a visionary–or, by some, a nut. 🙂
An example is the man who did AMERICA’S MOST WANTED show. He had a career. Then his son was kidnapped and murdered, and it changed that man’s life forever. That event was horrific, but it ignited a fire in his belly that burns all these years later–and will, I’d wager, until the day he dies.
He endured, he pursued, and along the way, sometimes he failed. But purpose drove him to keep pushing, and he did. He fought to changes laws, to institute programs to spare children, to put criminals who harmed children behind bars. He didn’t try. He did it. He stumbled and fell and got knocked down. But he got up–and he kept getting up, and he failed his way to success.
I wonder how many lives have been saved because he kept getting up. I’m sure there were times when he wanted to give up. But he didn’t. The fire continued to burn and he kept going until he met his objectives. He’s still going.
And that’s my longwinded way of sharing my belief that failure is a myth. At least in the way most think of it. Failure should not induce shame or ridicule or embarrassment. It should not attack self-esteem or feelings of inferiority. People certainly shouldn’t fear failure.
It’s, at most, a time to pause and reassess to consider a course correction that is apt to be more aligned with meeting our goals. Failure is, in a very real sense, an opportunity.
We don’ try. We do it, or we don’t. And sometimes we do it several times–many times–to get it right.
So long as we get up and go for it again once more than we “fail,” we’ve succeeded.
© 2015, Vicki Hinze