Everyone likes to be a winner.  Sometimes losing gracefully is a win.

Because failure is a figment of our imagination.  There is no such thing as failure.

As I begin to type this… I am already doubting myself…

I decided to type “failure” into Google to obtain a definition.  Failure is, “a lack of success.”  Huh… Thats pretty vague, right?

Well let’s think this through…

Success is, “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.”  This again is pretty vague.

I want to provide some clarity. Here is what I’ve learned…

Whether I am successful is really determined by how I perceive the situation.  At times my attempts were insufficient, strained, and I was unable to reach my goals… I feel like a failure.

I am not a failure!

If I experience something profound and can learn from it… That is the ultimate win.  All I need to succeed is to make enjoying the process my “aim or purpose.”  With this lens, failure is an opportunity to learn and grow.  Failure is a figment of my imagination.

Okay, so what about school? I failed Science.  My final grade was 60%.  I failed.  I had to retake the class. How is that success?  I quite simply, failed.

In a sense… I failed… totally true.  I did not meet the expectations of the course and didn’t fully comprehend the curriculum.  I did not score high enough to receive credit for my efforts.

I’ve failed the class.  But I did not fail!

I learned!  I grew!  Even if I did not meet the standards necessary to receive credit for my efforts, I’ve learned something, right? I hope?

If not, the issue is not within the class.  It is within myself.

For future success, I need to be more proactive and shape a more ideal destiny.  I need to learn from life events regardless of outcome.  For internal happiness, I have no choice but to succeed.  No one will earn an A for me… and I don’t want them to.

So, let’s say there is a negative outcome.  I ask two questions:

  1. What could I do differently next time to yield a positive outcome?
  2. Is this a red flag?  or Am I reaching towards my life purpose?

Question one is all about diagnosing opportunities and working on personal development. Question two is a little more tricky.  I want to talk about this question for a bit.

When I am consistently receiving negative outcomes I need to take time to reevaluate my circumstance.  Maybe, I am just being negative.  I am not working my hardest.  I am not planning.  I am not doing what is necessary to be successful.

What if, I totally am doing my best!?  It just isn’t clicking at all… I am, miserable.

This could be a red flag.  I am not reaching towards my life purpose.  If I try, try, try, and am never satisfied… maybe I am trying the wrong thing.

Sometimes we need a change of direction… It’s okay.

I do not advocate for dropping out any time something gets hard.  Struggle helps me grow stronger.  Have you ever had a moment when you feel like you can’t do it anymore, and, somehow pull it off?  It is in those moments where the deepest growth occurs.  Stress is good.  Struggle is necessary.

Struggle is where the mind and body grow.

In addition, not everything is fun and games.  I don’t like brushing my teeth.  I mean, I don’t dislike it.  But, I can’t remember a day where I jumped out of bed, “Wooooo! I get to brush my teeth today!”  This just doesn’t happen.  However, we do it because we know it’s best for us.  I want to see the truth behind my actions and how they benefit my life.

If you’ve been through all this above and feel like you are on the wrong path.

Turn the BLEEP around.

You owe it to yourself to try something new.  This is YOUR life.

For the sake of this article, let’s toss out the concept that failure even exists.  Or in the least, we ought to re-define what failure means to us.  Failure is something that WE WANT!  We are going to embrace failure.  Failure is a learning oppurtunity.

PS. I’m not advocating doing anything dangerous.  Know yourself.  Listen to your body and mind… push forward.

Action Steps

  1. Try to fail!  Make a dedicated effort to try tasks above your perceived abilities.  Be the weakest in the room.  Write down a hobby or interest of yours: ___.  What is a difficult feat to reach for this interest-that with determination-can be completed in one day? ___.  Go do it!
  2. Go for “no!”  Try to hear the word NO more often.  A silly example: ask the waiter or waitress if there is really a “free dessert for young adult discount.”  Or just ask for a “discount” of any kind.  You don’t need it.  But it was fun to goof off and ask.  Accept the no gracefully.  There was no harm in trying.  Simply,  ask questions that yield a no.  You might even receive a surprising a yes now and then.
  3. Focus on the process not the product.  Think of something you’ve “failed” at recently.  Immediately begin research on how to be more successful.  Create an ambitious yet attainable daily goal.  Focus on the small wins and you’ll find the long term product becomes less important.
  4. Develop a plan B.  Never put all your eggs in the same basket.  Once you’ve defined your goals, pick them apart.  Realize your own weaknesses and prepare for the worst. This is to be proactive!  You will grow better resilience when faced with struggle.
  5. Tell someone.  Share this article.  Let a friend know that you have decided to set ambitious goals.  Define your goals for your friend and push them to take the journey with you.  It is nice to have a support system or accountabilibuddy.  If you are doing tips 1-4 regularly, you will experience a great deal of struggle.  You and your friend can share this and relate.  You will push each other to become stronger.

Suggested Content:

Podcast Episode: Ted Radio Hour- Failure Is An Option

Book: Scott Adams- How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life

Book: Richard Fenton & Andrea Waltz- Go for No! Yes is the Destination, No is How Youe Get There

Video: Astro Teller- The Unexpected Benefit of Celebrating Failure

 Jigsaw puzzles were originally created by painting a picture on a flat, rectangular piece of wood, and then cutting that picture into small pieces with a jigsaw, hence the name. John Spilsbury, a London cartographer and engraver, is credited with commercializing jigsaw puzzles around 1760. Source