No one likes failure but it is an inevitable part of life. You’ll win some, you’ll lose some that is life in a nutshell. I am sure there are people who have experienced way more successes than failures but even they will have to look failure square in the eye. You may have noticed failure has cropped up a number of times in recent Five Thoughts For Thursday blogs. It’s not that I have had a spell of unremitting failures but my recent reading including the excellent Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed has made me re-evaluate failure, so here are my five thoughts so far.
1. Failure is inevitable. Whoever said “failure is not an option” clearly knew very little about life. There will be times, far more than you’d like, when things just don’t work out. I think accepting failure will come your way is actually a better way to deal with it. If you live a deluded existence where “failure is not an option”, when it does cross your path it is more likely to be a crushing blow. As Rudyard Kipling wrote in his famous poem If,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;…
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!
[Clearly this advice applies to everyone not just the male of the species]
2. You fail you are not a failure. Pretty hard to separate yourself from your failures but failing at something does not make you a failure. It just means you failed at one thing, one time. Next time may be very different. Many people, successful, well rounded people, have failed on numerous occasions but no one would call them a failure. The reason for that is..
3. Failure is an opportunity to learn. Athletes fail all the time. That is the essence of their training. They try something, to run faster, to jump higher or further and most of the time they fail. Each time they fail they learn something new about what it takes to succeed.
4. True success is built on trail and error. Theory is all very well but in the end you have to try something and see if it will work. You may have 100 failures but each one of them will contribute something towards the eventual success. Read any biography of any inventor and you will soon learn that the fantastic product they ended up inventing was really the product of many, many failed attempts.
5. A fear of failure will mean you never really advance. Some people, maybe even you, are too scared to try anything, to advance anywhere because of the fear of failure. Fear of the failure itself or fear of what people will think of you because of your failure. I genuinely believe it is better to have tried and failed than to have never tried. The inevitability of failure is not a licence to be reckless. I am not suggesting you go “gung ho” into a situation. There is still a place for research, planning and, yes, caution but to dwell on all that can go wrong can have a paralyzing effect on you. Anticipate the obstacles, plan how to hurdle them and, most importantly pick yourself up when you’ve hit one.
Here’s to your future success, from one who has failed to another. Definitely not from one failure to another. Maybe one learner to another.
FOOTNOTE: I send this blog out via email to my Five Thoughts Mailing List, which you can join by the way. Just fill in your details in the box on the right. Imagine my horror when my copy popped into my inbox with nothing in the email. CLICK HERE TO SEE Frankly I should have left it as the perfect example of failure, but I learnt my lesson corrected the mistake and sent out the newsletter again. I suppose I should just have left it as a prime example of failure, it’s inevitability and a lesson learnt.