Many of us have been raised with the idea that to fail is bad, that it means we are a failure. As a result, we’ve avoided failure at all cost. Yet failure is simply a concept. It doesn’t have any meaning unless we assign it meaning.
As a collective, we’ve given this word a negative connotation and an immense amount of power. We’ve gone to great length to prevent it from being a part of our experience. We’ve even allowed it to stop us from pursuing our dreams. Yet failure is an important guest in our life. It’s filled with valuable information.
Think of a time when you had a goal to accomplish something new. Something difficult. Something that caused you to stretch. Maybe when you trained for a competition of some sort. Perhaps taking on a new role at work. Or simply learning a new dance move.
Now recall an instance in your learning process when you didn’t quite get it right. Better yet, when you really screwed things up. Recall how you felt and what you thought about the situation. Now take a look at your experiences since. If you didn’t give up, once you realized what went wrong and how to fix it, it most likely became lodged in your memory as a lesson learned. That lesson became a teacher for future experiences.
In the beginning of my nursing career, we practiced IV sticks and drawing blood over and over on simulation arms. I got pretty good at it. However, the first time I did it on a real patient, I got really nervous. But I got the stick and the blood draw went well. However, when I took the needle out of the patients arm, blood squirted everywhere. I’d forgotten to take the tourniquet off. Looking at the blood all over the patient and myself, I felt mortified. You can bet I’ve never made that mistake again.
Inherent in any path of growth is a certain degree of risk. There are any number of mistakes, pitfalls, and blunders we can make when we’re not truly sure what we’re doing.
Inherent in any risk is the possibility of failure. Risking beyond our comfort and confidence zones means we may end up making a fool of ourselves and fail miserably.
Inherent in any failure is the possibility for growth. If our goal is to grow and evolve in this life, everything that gets us there is a success, including our failures.
Given that, what if we viewed failure as a nonentity? What if we took our emotions back and let go of the stories we create around our failures? What if in our quest to better ourselves we saw that in order to succeed, we need to be willing to fail? Failure then becomes a stepping-stone to success.
Whether pursuing a new career, a deeper relationship, or a lifestyle change, recognize that you’re going to screw up sometimes. Instead of beating yourself up and throwing in the towel, acknowledge your failures. Celebrate them as the stepping-stones that they are. Nothing more, nothing less. Then let them go and get back on track. Your life is sure to blossom.
As Edison once said when asked about all the failures he had while trying to invent the filament light bulb, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” I’m certainly glad he didn’t give up.
May your dreams manifest with all the spice it takes to make them worth pursuing.