What do you consider to be a failure? Is it when you tell yourself you are going to do something and you break that promise to yourself? Is it when you put yourself out there and you are rejected for a new job, a venture, or a relationship? Or is a failure when you simply don’t win; financially, professionally, or personally? If so, does that mean that 2nd place is always synonymous with failure?
For me, while those things might be indications of failing, they are not themselves failures. Most importantly, failing does not mean that you are a failure. It is vital to make this distinction because although failing never feels good, it helps us in the long run. It can be difficult to acknowledge the times in your life where you feel as though things have not gone your way, but once you do, you are on your way to learning, growing – and crucially – one step closer to success.
People say this all the time so bear with me, but how boring would life be if we always achieved what we set out to? If we hit the ground running and always pulled through, how would we ever know how much our dreams mean to us and what we truly value?
One of the reasons I love Cristiano Ronaldo is because he utilises every past mistake, criticism, and judgement to drive him toward success. Perhaps if Ronaldo hadn’t felt the pain of defeat in the 2004 Euros, he may never have led Portugal to victory in 2016. How would we ever realise what it means to persevere and come out the other side without these experiences? Ultimately, failing not only makes us more resilient, but it also makes us better, and less entitled, people.
So, does that mean that failing is actually good for us? Well, I certainly think so. Failing teaches us to fight a bit harder, to get more creative, and to consider different paths. Years ago, when I felt like I was failing a little more than usual, I confided in my sister and she offered me some great advice: “There is more than one path to get to where you want.” Sometimes, words just make you sit up and listen… She was right.
In those times when we fail a lot, we should take a step back and listen. Albert Einstein famously said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” and it’s true; why would the outcome change if the input has not? Often, we become so focused on our goals that we go through our lives like a bulldozer, not understanding the damage we are causing to our planet, to society, and to ourselves.
Some of us might become passive rather than active participants in our own lives, which frequently means we do not consider the best path to get to where we want. Knocking on the same door a hundred times does not guarantee it will open, so do not force it. Consider knocking on other doors and you might just find an open window or two on your way. As my mother so wisely put it when I informed her of the topic for today’s blog post: “Fail as many times as you need to become who you want to be.”