I remember being a young girl in school and worrying about my grades. I always wanted to give my best, so I would study hard in order to get high marks on my tests. Fast forward about 20ish years (give or take a few, but who’s counting), and while I am no longer in grade school I am still being tested. Unfortunately, the tests that life throws at us aren’t exactly the ones we can study for. There are no notes, no reading assignments, no practice tests. It’s the real thing 24/7 whether you’re prepared or not.
Logically speaking, we know that no one is perfect. We know that ultimate perfection in any aspect of life is not reality. What is a part of our reality, however, is the one word we all work our hardest to avoid: failure. Yep, failure. The big, bad “F-word” of life. The funny thing about failure is that even though we bust our butts to avoid failing, inevitably at some point we are destined to fail at something. Why? It goes back to that point on perfection I spoke about earlier. So what if, rather than treating failure like the plague, we embraced it as a normal part of life? What do you think would happen if we changed our attitudes about failure…our own as well as others? How do you think this would change our world?
Let’s start with a simple thought. Think about the last time you failed at something. We immediately equate failure with negativity, right? If we fail at something we feel ashamed, unworthy, stupid, or as if we are “less than” others. But what is failure other than a learning opportunity? We tried something, it didn’t work out as we had planned, so we take that experience and change it so that the next time we attempt that same thing we will be more successful, right?
What we may not realize is that not only are we changing our actions, we are also changing ourselves, our way of thinking, our perceptions. Through failure we are evolving into the people we are truly meant to be in this world. We are constantly learning what works and what doesn’t through our failures as well as those of others. We can watch someone else fail and learn just as much as if we ourselves had failed. We can also take our experiences and share them with others in the hopes that maybe we can spare them the failings we have gone through personally.
When you think about failure from this perspective it no longer carries with it the negative connotations it once did. When you look at it this way, failure is actually a good thing, a necessary thing. In fact, the only way you can really, truly fail in the negative sense of the word is if you stop trying. Famous author John Maxwell tells us in his book “Failing Forward” that, “If you’re not failing, you’re not trying.” And he’s absolutely right. Did you know that Thomas Edison went through over 10,000 prototypes for the light bulb before he finally got it right? He was quoted as saying, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The lightbulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” Imagine how our world would be different today had he given up; had Edison truly failed and stopped trying to invent the light bulb. It’s hard to fathom.
So you see, failures are nothing more than fertilizer for future successes. We are the ones who shine a negative light on failure and beat ourselves up when all this time our failures were nothing more than stepping stones to success. Can you honestly say you would be the person you are today without having failed a few times along the way? I know I certainly can’t. It is important to remember when we are dealing with any type of failure in our lives that we are not alone. We are not the first one, much less the only one, who has ever failed and we certainly won’t be the last. Look at failure in your life as an opportunity for growth, a moment of learning and change from within. Turn the negative into a positive and create the life you truly want from the life you have right now.
I will be patient with myself when failure comes my way.
I will use my failures as learning opportunities.
I understand that growth comes from failure.
I give myself permission to fail with the knowledge that I will become stronger for the experience.
I am a constantly evolving being who can turn negative feelings of failure into positive feelings of future success.
Let me know what you think of this post in the comments below.