You are reading this. Good. That means that you don’t like to fail.
Well, guess what? Today I’m going to discuss how to use failure to your benefit. For those who like to fail and understand that it is a part of growth and to find what is right for you, this may not serve you as well.
Failure. Let’s define the term. Is it a lack of trying? Is it a lack of succeeding? Failure is up to you to define. Did you fail because you did not try? Did you fail because you did not achieve the intended outcome? You decide what failure means to you. And in the same way, you also determine that for success.
People tend to hang onto relationships and situations even when they are losing control, losing vision and losing their voices. Why do they do this? As human beings, we have a tendency to fear a negative outcome…yet, we cannot control all factors. We cannot always determine timing, readiness, situation or the people who come in and out of our lives.
But why do we stay even when we realize something isn’t working?
As the Joker in The Dark Knight enjoyed pointing out in various ways, people accept things as long as they go according to plan. In my perspective… they accept passionless work. They accept people who do little good for them. They accept themselves. They become complacent. Fear of failure means complacency. However, “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
This is not my way of saying to overindulge in risk taking, letting go of control and not having goals. Instead of being reassured by continuing on a plan, realize that in adaptability you will find your genius. You will find your authenticity. In your authenticity, aka “this works for me” or “this does not work for me” you will then find your path.
Fear of failure actually brings about failure. Failure to live. Failure to love. Failure to accept that something is broken to prevent being broken. Well, it’s already happened! This isn’t about changing circumstance or challenging it. This is about accepting the facts quickly and steadily responding with a new determination.
People hold onto things because they think “this is how it has to be.” That’s why traditions continue. That’s why gender roles remain reinforced. That’s why equality takes so long to be enacted. It’s actually more resilient to accept change of plan than to hang on to the idea of what is supposed to be. Instead, look at what is in front of you and act by your own gut. In our mind, we have the Judge and the Observer. The Judge decides the value of our actions and those around us. Often, the Judge is created by experience, by cultural values, etc. The Observer merely watches. When you judge, you see things as how you think they should be. When you observe, you see what you have been missing. When you observe what works rather than judge what works, you can decide to act upon that. In fact, it is denial not determination that leads people to fear failure.
What are you afraid to lose? Sometimes, only when you lose something do you realize what you cannot lose. And here’s something you can never lose, no matter what happens: your attitude. That is something you decide. So, here’s a new definition of success to try out….No matter what happens, I will do something about it. This changes the mindset from simply trying to control what happens to making your attitude one of adaptability. Only through change can we grow. Only through the varying seasons can we experience all the beauty of life. When we shut that off, that is true failure. Be able to see the beauty of a detour. Then, you can begin.
I will leave you with a quote that changed my life.
“The real damage is done by those millions who want to ‘survive.’ The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Those who won’t take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. Those who don’t like to make waves—or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honour, truth, and principles are only literature. Those who live small, mate small, die small. It’s the reductionist approach to life: if you keep it small, you’ll keep it under control. If you don’t make any noise, the bogeyman won’t find you. But it’s all an illusion, because they die too, those people who roll up their spirits into tiny little balls so as to be safe. Safe?! From what? Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. I choose my own way to burn.”
― Sophie Scholl