No one likes failing, of course. It stings like a bugger. Being called a “failure” is a pretty low-down, hurtful insult.
At some point in your life, someone probably called you a failure for some reason. Perhaps it was in jest, or maybe they meant it. Either way, I bet you didn’t like it one tiny bit.
We are programmed by society to fear, loathe, avoid and hide failures. This is the wrong way of going about things.
In fact, failing should be revered because, without the fails, there are no wins – that’s physics right there. And that’s not the only reason we should celebrate failures, as we shall soon see.
There Is No Such Thing As A Non-Failing Human
There isn’t a single human on earth who hasn’t failed at least once. Really, it’s pretty unlikely that there’s anyone who hasn’t failed thousands, if not millions of times. Humans are ALL massive failures.
It seems more than a little bit daft to be so negative about something that is quite obviously a universal human experience. It’s like trying to hide the fact that you fart. No one’s going to believe you.
People who are genuinely successful – Jobs, Disney, Winfrey – will all wax lyrical about a time that they failed. It’s not a secret. The only people who hide their failures are those who are either too insecure to admit it, or trying to manipulate you; either way, it’s their problem.
So next time you fail, rest assured that the path behind and in front of you is littered with other humans who have failed just as many times, if not more, and they probably failed even harder than you did.
Failing Aids Learning
If you try something one time and you succeed – well done! But what have you learned? You’ve learned how to do it right, sure, but that’s all. If you failed a bunch of times before you succeeded, you will have learned a load more detail.
For instance, you will know the potential pitfalls, you will know what not to do. Someone who succeeds on their first go might actually fail on their second attempt, and they will be back at square one because they don’t have the same wealth of experience as you do.
When you crash and burn, ask yourself “how come that went so badly tits up?” No doubt you’ll have an answer, and that will increase your knowledge of the process and you will be a better person for it.
Some people only succeed because they rely on others. That’s all well and good, but it is their minions who are learning, not them. They will gain no knowledge and any victory will be hollow.
Failure Toughens You
It takes a bit of guts to try something, but it takes a wheelbarrow full of guts to try something, fail, then try again. And it takes a Mini Cooper full of guts to try it, fail, try again, fail, and then try again.
When you’re down the gym you probably do that thing where you put weights on your shoulders, bend your knees and then stand up straight again. Each time you push yourself up to full stretch, your legs get a little bit stronger. Failing is just like that, except you don’t need to pay for a gym membership or take ‘roids.
Perhaps that metaphor’s a little bit scrappy, but you get my point. Pain = gain.
If You Fear Failure You Clip Your Wings
Loads of people fear failure so much that they never try. This means that they won’t fail, which is great, but it also means that they will never succeed, or at least they will never reach their full potential.
If you can stare failure in the face and say “screw you failure,” you are much more likely to try new ventures, and experiment with things you’ve never tried.
Trying new stuff means that more failure is likely to occur, but the more you fail, the more likely you are to succeed, too. That’s life – it’s a bit of a bastard – you can’t have any successes unless you rack up the fails. Cheers life.
This leads on to my next point – if you aren’t fearful of the consequences, your mind is freed up to wander more creatively. If you are constantly concerning yourself with the many ways in which you could fail, you will forget to keep your eyes out for opportunities to do interesting things.
By walking slowly, looking at the ground, we ensure that we don’t trip, but we also miss the epic sunset and the flock of flamingos flying over head. Look up every once in a while.
If You Never Fail, Winning Sucks
If you were to win everything, all of the time, it wouldn’t feel like winning any more.
As an example, when you get home from work and put on the heating, you don’t feel a rush of elation. However, if you had been homeless for two years and, in the dead of winter, you were allowed to move in to a centrally heated home, you would probably cry with joy at the sound of the radiators warming up.
Without downs, there are no ups. It’s hard to appreciate that as you fall on your face, but it’s worth remembering every once in a while.
Failing Is Real
As a species, humans are removed from reality more than they ever have been. Our ancestors had to fight day in and day out for space to breathe, for food, for warmth, for survival.
Nowadays, the toughest situation most people get into is struggling to get a seat on the bus, or facing the boredom of the queue in a busy M&S at lunchtime.
Failure is what life is. Failure is human. Failure is natural. Deal with it.