And does it matter?
The dictionary definition of failure is a lack of success. However, failure is the key to success. Oh yes it is. You don’t have to see it as an ending. You’re not Chicken Licken and the sky is not falling in. Success requires you to learn from your mistakes rather than taking them at face value and giving up. Failure happens to everyone. That goes without saying. But what separates us as human beings is the understanding of the power of failure. Those who succeed understand. Those who don’t…well, say no more.
When I started to research failure it soon became more apparent that it was about the positives of failure as opposed to a fear of it. I was inspired to write about this as I had 'failed' with my upkeep of writing every day to get better but the positive in that means I now have lots to write about in these coming weeks. I could have written every day and chosen not to post anything so no one would know whether I had 'failed' or not.
But does it matter to me? No. I didn't fail.
So define failure. What does it mean to you? What does it stop you from doing? What is failure? And why do we allow it to control us? Is it in our make up? Is it a learned behaviour? Is it to be feared?
We are all driven by a passion or a purpose, even though some of us have buried what we are truly interested in, or what makes us happy. Think about your childhood dreams. You dreamed of being, doing, loving, creating. You were fearless, nothing mattered, yet everything did. You never had doubts. Right? Yet somehow as we grow older we often choose the safer options. Perhaps the easier options. Possibly the lazy options. We forget our own dreams and are hired to help others create their dreams. But it’s never to late to relive those dreams, that passion or purpose and throw out the doubts. Some of us are driven by the desire to succeed, others by the fear of failure. Either way, we decide for ourselves what failure means to us.
In this world we live in we’re told on a daily basis that anything is possible. And not just in this digital age. It’s been possible since the sands of time. Take James Dyson. It took him 5,126 attempts to successfully create a bagless vacuum cleaner. Steve Jobs spent nine years building Pixar into the best animation studio and counts being fired from Apple as contributing to his success. Beethoven's teacher declared he was a hopeless composer. The Beatles were turned down by many record labels. Henry Ford went bust five times before becoming a success. It’s about recognising the benefits of failure. It knocks you down but you can choose to see what you truly have in life. You learn who you really are. You can’t pretend any more. We can choose to improve and to not make the same mistake again. In essence we learn from it, we embrace it and we most definitely build on it.
‘Failure is not the opposite of success, it's a stepping stone to success’
When you are tested with failure it secures you with an understanding of who and what matters and how you will deal with adversity in your life. This type of lesson can’t be taught at school or university. Life chooses to teach you it. It can only be a good thing. In fact, it's important to experience failure. The good old cliche of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" is never a truer word said. Failure thickens your skin. It toughens you up and it teaches you. Step out of your comfort zone because that's the only place you will truly grow. You might fail but you might succeed.
There are many things I could list that I failed at. Did I get as good a degree as I should have? Did I make the right decision when I chose to leave advertising and work in the record industry? Did I give up when I got made redundant the first time? The third time? Or even the sixth time? Should I have taken up that job offer in London right at the start of my career? Should I have pondered the best part of 5 years on trying to figure out where my life was going and what the fuck I could be doing? Should I have wasted years and years on relationships that I knew were no good for me? Should I never have chosen to resign from my last job? Should I have trusted people who let me down? Could I have escaped the disappointments of so called friends? Could I have pushed myself to be better, be more creative, be more successful, earn more money? Could I have won more awards? Could I have worked in another country? Would I be the person I am today? Would I be more grateful for where I am in life? Would I be happier? After all, that's ultimately what we're chasing. Happiness and contentment.
“It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.”
It's taken me many years to figure out that what you put into life is what you get out of it. The same goes for people and relationships. Kindness goes a mighty long way and you'll come across people who are worth it and those who aren't. The same goes for the effort you choose to put into something, or not. I may still be looking for happiness and contentment but I think that is something that we all look for throughout our lives.
Failure isn’t fun, neither is disappointment, but we can choose to learn from it, pick ourselves up and get on with it. You can never live without failing at something. You will learn that you will survive. And no matter what, you'll be a success.