I’m not talking the fell-off-your-bike-when-you-were-four kind of failure.
You failed to complete a project on time and your company lost thousands of dollars as a consequence. You were supposed to present the concept to investors but were ill-prepared when it was game time. The investors left the presentation unconvinced. You’re fired.
You missed an important deadline because you waited until the last minute.
Your partner breaks up with you because you cheated. Got caught. It was a mistake. The damage’s done. She won’t forgive you no matter how much you beg. It’s become so pathetic that her sister picks up the phone after the 42nd call and demands you leave her be. It’s over.
Your insecurities are plain as day to your sister but you go on as if nothing’s wrong. Your false sense of confidence drives a wedge so deep you two that she feels like she no longer knows you. The two of you used to be tight but now that relationship is a shadow of what it used to be. All because you failed to open up.
You lost a friend due to pride. You know you were in the wrong but refused to fess up. He couldn’t take it any more and ended the friendship.
You blew it.
Your first reaction is to blameshift. You continue doing the same things if you feel it’s not your fault. It must be their fault. You run through a mental list of things they did wrong but none of these would hold up in court. The glove doesn’t fit. You were caught red-handed, the spotlight centers right on you in the act.
Then comes the guilt.
These failures draw you to a point so low you question your purpose in life. You reach an end to yourself.
You don’t like it at rock bottom. You avoid pain like a cat avoids bath water. It’s a survival instinct. But how else will you wash away the grime that’s built up over the years. All that muck you’ve been ignoring.
You see, nothing inspires change like failure. We are naturally inclined to keep things the way they are. If it ain’t broke, we won’t fix it. So, brokenness is the very thing we need to grow.
In the classic film, Dark Knight Rises, Bane informs Batman “Victory has defeated you,” and proceeds to break his back. Hopefully, it doesn’t take this kind of failure for you to wake up.
In the face of abject failure, the best thing you can do is ask yourself “now what?” and know that failure is only the beginning of improvement. But only if you choose to make it so.
Some of the best stories involve that kind of failure. Take Spider-Man. He would never have become the superhero we know and love were it not for the death of his beloved Uncle Ben. The deep guilt he felt for causing that loss drove him to use his powers for good.
How about a more serious example?
J.K. Rowling was fired from her secretarial job and divorced. Richard Branson lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in failed business deals. Walt Disney bankrupted his first company. Tony Sta…I mean, Robert Downey Jr. was a deadbeat drug addict. Kanye West dropped out of college. The list goes on and on.
The point is this was the before part of their before and after. In the before they acne, balding head, wrinkles. I’m not talking about the low budget before and after where the after picture looks like a completely different person. Apparently hair growth and weight loss products also alter your hair and eye color and the shape of your nose. Who knew?
So, choose, friend. Choose to change. It isn’t much of a choice, really, as you will find yourself in the very same spot again if you refuse to change or learn from your mistakes.
How else does the hero change if not through redemption?