It’s time to value failure
Why: to debunk the stigma of failure and help grow a society of resilient, strong, capable human beings. And, to encourage everyone to get out there and have a go!
Failure is many things to many people, so it’s difficult to define in a word or two. But in a nutshell, it’s missing the mark, or, as defined in the Oxford English Dictionary: The opposite of success. However, neither definition is taking in the proper essence of failure.
Often, what failure really means is ‘not right now’. And, most of the time, there’s good reason for this. We are simply not ready for the success we want to attain. A lot of the time, we think success should come a lot easier or quicker than it should. We live in a world where everybody wants success and everybody wants it now; but, that’s not how success works.
People are so busy looking for success that they forget to fail
At first glance, under-valuing failure makes perfect sense; because at first glance, failure is the opposite of what you’ve set out to achieve. It’s also because most people view failure as the end. Crash and burn and that’s it. However, when you break failure down, and understand it, you’ll see that’s not the case. Failure is the beginning, and most of the middle. Success, true success (whatever that looks like for you), always comes at the end.
There are a million different ways to fail and all with various consequences. I’m not talking about natural disasters, losing a loved one, or losing a home or everything you own. I’m talking about the Creative Arts – people with creative ideas looking to make a difference in the world with their work, their creations and their talent.
And, it’s here that I think we’re all getting worse at failure. I really don’t think that we are being given the room or the encouragement to fail.
Our best work takes many drafts, many reviews, many, many hours, days and years of learning. Great chefs don’t bake that MasterChef dish on their first attempt. All great tradespeople, artists, entrepreneurs and anyone who crafts, creates, draws or builds have to do some form of apprenticeship. Then, even after that, a lifetime of learning. Ask the greatest and they’ll tell you they’re still learning, still failing. But, it’s through this trial and error that the great masters build masterpieces.
I look at kids today and many aren’t getting a chance to fail because their parents and society are failing for them. Wrapping them in cotton wool, denying certain experiences that were once the norm for kids the world over. Technology is playing a large part here too. The comforts of the modern world are making us all soft.
Then, there’s the young people on the other side of the scale, under enormous pressure to perform. Such is the pressure that they don’t have the time or space in their life to fail. This is a real shame. Everybody needs room to fail so they can learn, develop and thrive. And, not just kids, it’s all of us. Everyone who wants a little more from life – a better career, more money, more options, more fame, fortune, time with family, whatever it is that floats your boat, we all need to fail in various ways to discover who we are and what opportunities are out there. Of course, add to that the uncertainty of an ever changing, ever developing technological landscape, and half the time, none of us truly know what our playing field will even look like in five years’ time. This makes failure inevitable.
So, how can we value failure?
I believe it’s time we started talking openly about failure, teaching it, looking at the true nature and value of this glorious beast. Thus, opening up the opportunities that come from failure, and, most of all, debunking the stigma.
You see, I’ve been on this planet for a while now and I’ve come to learn some of failure’s secrets. Failure is purely a mindset. If you fear it, it grows. If you doubt, it grows. If you wallow, it thrives. However, if you have a purpose, if you work toward that purpose, getting up each time you fall, celebrating any small victories along the way, embracing challenges, revelling in your own efforts, knowing that you’re in the game and that by partaking in this and giving it your all, you are truly living a life, then failure has nothing to cling to, and it diminishes.
We are all going to fail at various times. Every one of us! We can either choose to fail miserably or fail fantastically. The most successful people in the world fail fantastically. They have a purpose and give it their all, and when they fail, they look around for the opportunities that are now available to them. These can be obvious, or available through self-assessment. They learn from the past and look to the future, and most of all, keep their purpose at their forefront and don’t give up.
What many people fail to understand, or take stock of, is that failure is a fickle beast. If you’re out there doing enough the things the right way, or even the wrong way, for long enough, failure, by its very nature can’t cope, and varying levels of success will emanate.
As a society, it’s time to stop ridiculing each other for our failures. It’s time to appreciate the effort, the courage and commitment we have for our ideas, beliefs and goals. We should be encouraged to give things a go without fear of embarrassment or humiliation.
I’ve said it before, but I’m not advocating for a second that we should just accept failure. In fact, I’m suggesting the opposite; that we should learn to embrace challenges despite the chance of failure. I’m saying we should all get out there and give life everything we’ve got. We don’t need a society of spoilt, self-obsessed, anxiety-filled, snotty-nosed, sooky sooky la las (we’ve got enough of them running our country as it is). We need resilient, strong, open-minded, hard-working human beings that come from experiencing life. So please, if you take nothing else from this, understand that, like it or not, at certain points in our lives we will fail (whoa, some are going to be doozies!). But, it’s how we learn to handle that failure that will determine the people we become.
Now, get out there and fail!
A side note.
To all those amazing go-getters who’ve been at something for years and years and years and have come to the end without reaching the so-called ultimate heights, if you’ve tried your very best, took on the challenges, celebrated the little victories along the way, embraced your world, impacted events, maybe even someone else’s journey, then at the end, you haven’t failed, you’ve given something your all and you should give yourself a pat on the back and know that you are a massive success. Because you were in the game, you’ve lived. Congratulations!