Failure has a funny way of humbling us. While it can be depressing, frustrating, and outright uncomfortable, many profound and effective lessons are delivered through the art of failure.
I have been working on achieving a goal of mine for about a year. Last week, I found out my most recent attempt at achieving this goal was denied and put on hold for another 6 months. I was devastated. Feelings of frustration, anxiety, and stress flooded my body. How could this be?! I rarely fail at things I put my mind to and couldn’t fathom what went wrong. I am used to putting in the work required to succeed, and figured the outcome here would be no different than any of my other successes. I am obsessed with accomplishment, so this denial of my goal was a huge strike to the ego.
Rather than reacting immediately, I allowed these negative feelings to come to the surface and by creating space between my immediate feelings and a reaction, the immediate feelings soon dissipated. And what remained was a sense of determination, drive, and desire to succeed at during my next attempt.
In this case, failure humbled me. I was riding high, doing everything I thought was required of me to succeed, only to find out that it still was not enough. The great thing about failure is that if treated properly, it breeds future success. When we fail, we have 2 options: 1) we let the failure consume us and vow to never try again in fear of another failure or 2) we pick ourselves up from the dirt, dust ourselves off, and get back to the grind. Rather than react, we must sit with the emotions that failure brings to the surface, allow them to run their course, and accept the development opportunities we are provided with. We must implement these developmental opportunities in order to increase the odds of future success.
When I first got the news, my immediate reaction was one of defeat and embarrassment. But this reaction was rooted in fear and making decisions rooted in fear is detrimental to our growth as it only cultivates more fear. Instead, I chose to keep practicing. To fearlessly and relentlessly move forward in preparation for another attempt.
It doesn’t matter if you are trying to win a client bid, your weekend basketball match or a huge stuffed animal at the carnival; the reason success feels SO good is because there is always an opportunity for failure. The more likely you are to fail, the greater the success feels! It is the yin and the yang of life. If there was no such thing as failure, success wouldn’t feel as good once we achieved our goal. Failure IS what makes life so interesting, so rich, so exciting! So the next time you don’t succeed, get excited! EMBRACE IT! Learn from it! Our greatest lessons are not rooted in stories of success, rather they are learned through brutal, raw, tangible failure!
I was told once by a wise man “there is no such thing as failure, only feedback.” This feedback serves as a tool we can leverage to increase the likelihood of success on the next attempt. Don’t EVER give up! Your future self will thank you for it!