I am incredibly proficient at failing. This is not false humility. This is my public admission to the world that there are some things at which I royally suck. Things like sports. Following directions precisely. Parking. Or, worst of all… texting back.
While far from being a visionary, I’ve been known to have an idea or two. But good ideas amount to nothing without some good, ol’ fashioned discipline and a little bit of elbow grease. A little more than I can muster at times. It seemed like no matter how many blogs I’d attempted, projects I’d started (shout out to #the5wordproject!), or gyms I’d joined, nothing stuck.
There is a particular pain found in the shame and disappointment of starting something, and watching it slowly fade to nothing. I used to think that it was better not to try at all, than to try and fail. Failure is humiliating. It exposes incompetence, discourages future attempts, and leaves you with an overall feeling of defeat.
However, the fallacy of failure is that it’s this terrible, awful thing. When truly… it’s more than that. While failure is not the goal of any endeavor, it is far from being a waste. Failure isn’t definitive, nor is it definitional. It’s directional.
Failure isn’t something to fear, as much as it’s something to value. We fear failure, because we think it is definitive. We equate it to the end of success. When really, it’s the most useful tool on the road to success, because it’s so developmental. We learn more from our failures than we do from our wins. The pain of failure makes certain of that. It both sharpens and softens us, teaching both capability and compassion. Once you’ve experienced a phenomenal failure, it’s easier to empathize with others. Especially those who have faced similar spectacular defeats.
Failure calls us by it’s own name. When we fail, the tendency is to define ourselves as a Failure. Failure threatens to wreck your confidence… then, sweetly provides you with opportunity for growth. It’s uncomfortable and, yeah, embarrassing at times. But it doesn’t define who you are. When we change how we view our failures, we’re likely to be less devastated when it happens, and more prepared for how to deal with them.
Failure is an indicator of direction. It highlights areas in ourselves that require further development. Whether it’s a skill, a habit, or a relationship, failure is an arrow pointing us in the way we should go. In order to be better, or do better. Even pointing out some areas in life we need to leave behind, in order to move on to better.
Everyone fails. Everyone. The way you respond to failure becomes an index of how badly you want something. It shows how much you’re willing to give, how far you’re willing to go, and how hard you’re willing to work for it. Or, in some cases, fight for it.
I’m not trying to make light of failure. There are times when our failures have very real, very tangible results and consequences. I am, however, adamantly saying that failure is not the end. Your failures are not your end. Remember. Failure isn’t definitive, nor is it definitional. It’s directional.
Don’t park on your failures, friends. Keep it moving.