APPRECIATING THE GIFT OF FAILURE

Failure, or is it?

Failure, or is it?

If you’re a goal-oriented person like myself you'll know there are few things more infuriating than failure.

Failure is a testimony to your shortcomings, a sickening confirmation that you are simply not good enough.

It doesn’t matter how you’ve failed or in which aspect of your life you failed,  the simple fact remains there is something that you tried to do but you weren’t good enough at.

And while there’s nothing as infuriating than failure, I used to believe there was something that ran it a close second.

Namely the person who tried to comfort you by saying: “Just try and remember that success isn’t a destination, it’s a process.”

I’m getting my arse handed to me in the most humiliating of fashions and you’re telling me to enjoy the moment? Get tae f*ck!

But then last week I finally figured it out.

While failure is definitely bad - on this my opinion hasn’t changed - the possible benefits failure offers are substantial.

While trying extremely hard not to sound like an incense-stick-waving-healing-crystal exponent, I now firmly believe it's is only in the aftermath of failure that you are truly forced to confront your weaknesses and evaluate, adjust and ultimately improve yourself.

You have to look at yourself and figure out what it is about you, your beliefs and practices that led to the failure. You have to figure out what will have to be done differently to change failure into success.

You might have failed because you didn’t take the task at hand seriously enough, in which case you have to learn to give things their proper respect.

You might have failed because you were too impatient and rushed through vital preparation stages because you arrogantly believed you were beyond such tasks.

All these possibilities are there for you to identify, tackle and overcome.

The great thing is that the improvement potentials are endless. Even if you wrongly identify what it was that was wrong you know improve something else before realising you have to be better at identifying problems. 

You might wrongly believe you failed because you didn’t commit yourself to the challenge as much as you needed to, in which case you’ll question whether the goal is something you actually really want just think you want.

Even though you’re wrong in your diagnosis you’ve now established whether the goal is something that truly matters to you.

In contrast if you succeed you’ll never have to face these issues. You’ll just continue along, oblivious to all the amazing things you could be learning about yourself.

The dullest autobiography I ever read was by the Brazilian footballer Pele. Pele is considered one of, if not the, greatest footballer of all time. His story is one of uninterrupted success and glory. A rough summary would be: “When I was 9 I was the best on my school team, we won the league and I scored the most goals. When I was 15 I joined my local professional club and was the best player in the team, we won the league and I scored the most goals. When I was 17 I was selected to play for the national side in the World Cup we won the title and I scored the most goals.”

Success, but terribly dull success

Success, but terribly dull success

His life has no story ark, no adversity or setback that stopped him in his tracks forced him to question himself and made him a better man. So dull was the story that I stopped reading it halfway through and have never been tempted to return to it.

It is failure and our response to it that truly shapes our characters, giving us the chance to prove our dedication, our determination and our ability to adapt and grow.

In a lot of ways failure is like eating your vegetables. It might not feel good at the time and doesn’t taste good, but ultimately it’s beneficial and you’ll be a better person for the experience.


Posted on November 1, 2014 .