FAILURE. This big bad word plays such a huge role in so many things today. So many have developed a fear for this because it seems we’ve been taught that its a bad thing. But is it? In some cases, failure can be pretty bad, but a lot of times we have to be on a much bigger scale. Why have we become so afraid of failure as society? Is it because we’re taught that if we fail at something, that’s it? We’re just done.
There are multiple definitions to failure, and we seem to apply them quite drastically and never consider taking a different approach. As I’ve found, taking a different approach is the key to finding success. In fact the opposite of failure.
In my life, I’ve put myself in two different catagories: point blank failure, and failure to the point that I just haven’t tried everything yet. The latter of the two being the most recent for me. I have always chalked myself up to be a horrible test taker. I just wasn’t good, nor would I ever be good. Every time I took a test, I expected the worst. What a way to go through life right? Didn’t matter how well I prepared, which was usually a lot. But I didn’t believe I would succeed with test taking, and lots of times, I didn’t do as well as I could have.
The first time I was shown a graph of what success really looks like, it was far from perfect. Meaning it started at the beginning where anyone else would also have to start, and then it gets really messy, like a huge messy rat nest, before eventually success came. When I saw that graph, it made sense. I never really thought more about it. We see successful people all the time, but that’s what we see, the success. They don’t go into how many times they tried something else and failed.
Ask most anyone and they could give you a list of things they have tried but failed at. Not necessarily big things, but they could tell you something.So why do we look at failure as such a big bad thing. In reality, it should be viewed as a good thing. It means we’re trying new things and learning. The hardest lesson perhaps to learn is to fail and get back up. We tend to want to sulk in our failures which makes getting back up all the harder. I’ve found that’s also where the most growth happens. We get back up, we learn from our failure, whatever we just tried and we go in a different direction. We pivot a little.
With that I ask this. Why are we so afraid of failure? Is it because we’re so afraid of the outcome if we do try and fail? Or is it because we’re afraid of what might happen if we don’t succeed? Failure comes with two different prices in my opinion. We pay one price if we fail and we sit there and think about how horrible it is that we failed. (Thats usually quite a large black hole that gets pretty deep) Or we can pay the price of growth. Don’t get me wrong, growth hurts too, but there is a reward and light at the end of that tunnel.
I’ve come to find that if you can give yourself some grace, failure is disguised as growth, you just have to polish it up a little.
I used to tell myself that failure was not in my vocabulary. Then I thought again. Failure is part of life. It starts at an early age, we just call it learning when we’re kids. Kids fail at a lot of things, but eventually the learn the right way to do it. I bet if you failed a test in school or maybe just got a couple questions wrong, you looked at what you got wrong and didn’t forget it. So you tried, then failed to answer something correctly, and then learned right? We fail forward.
Next time you think about trying something, try not to worry about failure. Think about something just not working and then figuring out another way to do it. Fail forward to succeed. After all, if we fail forward to success, isn’t that really just figuring out a way to succeed?