You can fail in life and end up where you need to be because failure is not permanent — giving up is.
Countless articles are sprawled across the internet, advocating the key to success. However, the conversation around failure is less prominent. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s this: failure is not as disastrous as people believe it to be.
Thomas Edison once said: “Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.”
It may seem negative at first. Yet, if you move past the fears, failure is nothing more than a signpost guiding you in the right direction.
You might try assigning a human quality to failure, to relate to it better. Don’t see it as a force outside you inhibiting success, but as an integral part of your psyche leaving clues towards success.
Renowned author Elizabeth Gilbert writes in Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear: “You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.”
We are not entrusted with a road map marking our way through life, so we’re left to make it up as we go along. For this reason, be compassionate with yourself since you don’t have all the answers at your disposal.
Think of failure as being blindfolded in a maze and asked to find your way out. To find the exit, you must take the wrong turns to gain insight on the direct passage out.
Your failures (taking the wrong turns) become the roadmap to victory (finding the exit). Life functions in the same respect, in so far as the key to success is contained within your mistakes.
“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” – Napoleon Hill
Some people recover from failures quicker than others, but it is the lessons gained from the experience that is paramount.
“Serial winners bounce back, move on, and win anyway. And they do it through action,” affirms Larry Weidel in Serial Winner: 5 Actions to Create Your Cycle of Success.
Failure sharpens the saw of the human will and endows us with determination.
I attended a mastermind group for several years where it was restated that we should fail often and fail fast. The significance is to speed the rate at which you fail and learn from the lessons.
You can fail in life and still end up where you need to be because failures are pivotal moments in your success journey. Whilst it may not appear that way, it is because you’re invested in your life story.
A mentor is helpful to guide you through your failures than if you were to go it alone.
Author Jeff Olson’s writes in The Slight Edge: “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. ‘Progressive’ means success is a process, not a destination. It’s something you experience gradually, over time. Failure is also just as gradual. In fact, the difference between success and failure is so subtle, you can’t even see it or recognize it during the process. And here’s how real success is built: by the time you get the feedback, the real work’s already done.”
What you consider failure, others see as vital success lessons. You can reframe failure as learning aids through repeated setbacks. Consider it as a letting go moment. Just as you no longer play with your childhood toys since you have outgrown them, your relationship with failure ought to be the same.
Many people don’t succeed because they associate failure with their self-worth and never try again.
The point worth highlighting is to outgrow your negative association to failure, so it doesn’t impact your self-worth.
“I learned then that there is a difference between failing and failure. Failing is trying something that you learn doesn’t work. Failure is throwing in the towel and giving up. I refused to be a failure. As Winston Churchill once said, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm,” writes author Jay Samit in Disrupt Yourself.
Success is a Destination
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” –Paulo Coelho
Many people equate success with frequent wins and fewer setbacks. The reality is, more defeats lead to success if the individual is willing to learn from the setbacks.
For example, you can be rejected by nine out of ten record labels but if you are a musician you can still be remarkably successful with the one offer.
Authors Jeff Brown and Mark Fenske remind us in The Winner’s Brain: 8 Strategies Great Minds Use to Achieve Success: “Winners reframe failures so that they work to their advantage and recognize that when things don’t go according to plan the journey isn’t necessarily over — and in fact failure is often a new opportunity in disguise.”
There’s a meme that gets shared on social media depicting what we imagine success to be and its corresponding associations.
It highlights why it’s important to develop a new framework around failure, if you wish to succeed.
Failure invigorates the human spirit or delivers a crushing blow to person’s self-worth. Either way, it governs whether the individual has what it takes to find a way through their challenges.
The saying ‘Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth’ applies to failure. For it was the American motivational speaker Jim Rohn who once quipped: “Success leaves clues.”
In a similar vein, the late Hungarian mathematician Farkas Bolyai wrote: “When the time is ripe for certain things, they appear at different places, in the manner of violets coming to light in early spring.”
Knowing this, reframe your perception of failure as a signpost leading you closer to a prosperous future.
As long as you don’t give up, success is a destination you will reach if you are firm in your determination, like a train bound to its tracks.
After all, failure is life’s way of nudging you back on track, to reach your destination when the time is right — as long as you stay on course and never give up.