The society we live in has very unpleasant perspective and expectations when it comes to failure, for it is never desired, appreciated or looked after with a sense of relativity – you simply better never fail! So we tend to desire exclusively success in whatever form and shape it can come in, be it personal, mental, political, professional, physical and, let’s never forget the one we’re always told to remember, financial success. So we end up competing and struggling to step-up our careers or school-grades, conquering all types of awards, never being satisfied with how big our house or car is, excelling at sports, being the most good looking individual and striving for 5 minutes of fame on national television.
We are taught to beat all the odds at anything, from personal challenges to societal recognition, always under some never-ending and thrilling adrenalin rush, making life more dramatic than it should ever be, thinking scientifically and acting based on strategies that don’t permit failure. But no matter how much we try, a situation where we simply lose always arises and we never really can see it as a natural part of life, something that should be welcomed and accepted with open arms and a willing soul.
What is failure?
We all had some of our goals and dreams put aside or ending up unfulfilled and we all know how much that can affect enthusiasm for future endeavors. But let’s never forget that nobody can live only at the top of a mountain and have desire to move forward, because that travelling will always bring us to valleys and shadows – until we climb back up to the top again! So many of the greatest leaders that walked this planet experienced periods of absolute despair and misery; some Summers are really perfectly warm, others are warmer than we desired; some days we feel just perfect, others there’s a hole where our heart used to be.
Even though when we feel like we missed the bulls-eye we should make a deep analysis of the experience, let’s take look at this strong and judgmental word – failure – under a different light. In the Western World this word is attached with a sense of patronization and permanent duration, so that when someone is described by it, the concept that it’s impossible to change the failure one is becomes present. And when a situation is called a failure it implies that the outcome was very poor and impossible to modify, but is this how the word should be used or the right perspective for a leader to have?
Think of failure as something relative to time. For us to know that we had a very good day we need to analyze it after it ends, and sometimes we are so certain that our day was beyond excellent only to later find out that something we had no idea that was occurring changes our perception of it, so when the day is overviewed in its entirety, it simply turns out to be very different from our first thought. But on the other hand we all have had days that seemed to be bad because something came along and ruined the whole brightness of our thoughts and brings a negative frame to them. But when we look at the exact same day from the distance and experience of, let’s say, a year, then even the bad events that happened have some new light and reason, because only time can turn so many failures into tremendous successes!
What is NOT failure?
Failure certainly isn’t inadequacy and, ultimately is but a matter of perception and the word became so polluted with wrong connotations that the more we use it, the more it misrepresents reality, for many situations we think of as failure just need the sands of time to run for them to become a success. We tend to assume and label things in ways that control our happiness and perspective about the world. If we don’t really know the complete story hidden behind an event or the background that explains someone’s apparent success, we definitely cannot judge ourselves or others and stamp our experiences with success or failure.
We may simply feel inadequate because we tried too hard to succeed in something and then when our expectations collapse we analyze the event in such a small scale and forget to see the larger view of reality! Whatever happened, it probably happened for a reason – to teach us that certain relationship, social event or job opportunity simply wasn’t right for us.
How/When/What causes failure?
Ultimately, our poor and mundane perspective about everything is what causes failure. Something really awful may happen in your life, but if you inspect it again closely, it can turn out so beautifully right and divinely sewn in the fabric of reality. Picture in your mind a fisherman who went out to far sea with his two hardworking sons. The day is beautiful and the sky is clear and in the end they managed to catch a great amount of fish that made the old father prouder than ever. But suddenly a storm appears so strong and dark they could no longer see the shore, making the boat rock out of control to the point they were sure this was their last day on Earth. Without knowing their direction anymore and feeling completely lost, little could he know that his house was the target of a lightning bolt that set it on fire – first the kitchen area and the barn, and very fast it engulfed all his possessions.
Just like a miracle, all three men safely got to shore to find the fisherman’s wife crying desperately and giving them the tragic news about their house. While the poor woman weeps and screams that all they had is now gone, the fisherman calmly explains her with a peaceful tone of voice that the fire that destroyed their house was also the divine light source that pointed him and his sons the direction back to land – the fire that destroyed their home was the same that saved their lives.
What are its advantages/disadvantages?
Failure can be success in disguise if we learn to see it from the other point of view. With a positive mindset no single failure can make us focus on the dark side of it, only on the bright outcome that arose. If we learn to be thankful enough to realize that to fail is one of the conditions of being alive and that it can teach us the deepest values of life – balance, acceptance, patience, tolerance, humanity – then its magic makes us wiser, stronger and certainly more successful.
But if we simply fight it, then it can crash us and separate us from all our dreams. We should get rid of the toxic dualistic perceptions of the Western World – nothing really has to be good or bad, right or wrong, why shouldn’t everything simply be?
What to do when you identify with failure and how to deal with it?
If someone comes up to you and blindly labels you as a loser, a failure, disallow that by always knowing that deep inside everything is the same, and on a more superficial approach you might even be better than that person simply because whoever tends to judge others is but very insecure. Deep inside you know exactly who you are and only you can change your thought patterns and convert them from dark to bright, from destructive to constructive, and transform all your life and dreams.
And actually it’s the anticipation of failure that causes more pain that the very result. To anticipate an event and allow anxiety and lack of positivity to grow exponentially in our minds can not only pollute our souls but also ruin the outcome! Whenever such anxiety takes control of you, remember that whatever happens, what really matters is that knowledge and wisdom is later absorbed from the experience, and no failure happened to you, only personal and spiritual growth.
Conclusion and final words
Always remember to let go of those deep-seated feelings of failure from the past that still haunt you – take it easy on yourself and forgive your mistakes by learning from them, that’s the only way to be gifted with the ability of moving forward and allowing relaxation and happiness to replace the negative thoughts that hold back your success. By letting go of past burdens you will be submerged in a new peaceful sense of living that will allow you to live what really matters – the present.
You can never change the past, only take great lessons from it, so focus on the day you’re living and stop relapsing into patterns that follow you since that bad moment or that shameful event that you seem unable to forget. Keep your mind concentrated on what today can still bring you and spend the day with total dedication to the tasks you have at hands, for nothing else can refill you with joy and a delightful sense of purpose than being fully aware of the present moment and of the gift that it represents to be living it.