Category Archives: Failure

Failure, the other F word

FailureIt’s a Friday night, its been a hellova week, no month, no year – you have put excessive time and effort, not just physical but mental and emotional time and effort, into working on something that you want, think, believe will bring you the success that you want, think believe you need –  crunch time has arrived and you realise that you have F*&#%ing Failed.

After a deep breath you start the process of try telling yourself that “if you learn from defeat, then you have’t really lost” or that “everything happens for a reason”, but when you realise that you are not going to get that end result that you have manifested, dreamed of and obsessed over, there is the first F word with a shorter word to follow.

And this is because dealing with failure is not only one of the most necessary but also one of the hardest lessons that we as human beings, will ever have to learn…

And that is why failure is generally followed by the inevitable tantrum…

where you pick apart your failure with even more obsessive gusto than whatever it was that you were working on in the first place and then you start attacking your life too, you know its not just that thing that failed, it is everything else too – my relationships are not how I want them to be, my job is not how I want it to be, I never have enough money and I even can’t stand the people I do extreme ironing with (google it) …

WHEN IS IT MY TURN??

Maybe this is coupled with floods of tears and results in a few broken things around the house or a few broken things in your body, headaches, shoulder tension, neck aches…  Because when you are in it, experiencing it, living it, none of the 500 quotes on failure on the Goodreads website are going to inspire you to think – alright then I think that this failure is a gift and I’m all good to go now… they may help, but failure, in most cases, takes time to get over.

To explain why, lets look at what failure means as per the trusty free dictionary online…

fail·ure n.

1. The condition or fact of not achieving the desired end or ends.

2. One that fails.

3. The condition or fact of being insufficient or falling short… and so on

The common denominator in all definitions is “EXPECTATION”.  In each case the falling short, the not achieving, the non performance all relates to not reaching an expected outcome.   And we all know what happens when we don’t meet expectations (ours or others), hey presto – it means that we are not good enough and as the guru of positive thinking, Louise Hay famously preaches – the fear of not being good enough is the fear that underpins all fears. 

SO GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK if you threw that tantrum that you weren’t real proud of after experiencing a set back, apologise to anyone that may have experienced passing wind from some flying glass, apologise to yourself if you were the brunt of the negative banter and remember you are only human – and (for yet another quote):

It is not how you fall that matters, it is how you rise again…

But as we have identified that expectation is the common denominator of failure, what if we changed our perspective slightly on the expectation set in the first place, would this mean that next time we wouldn’t have to rise up again from such a low base?   Would changing or even losing the expectation of the end result lead to a little less pain associated with failure?

I THINK SO…

I see it like sitting a school exam.  Getting a good grade in an exam generally means that you can get your parents off your back and you can feel good about yourself because an A in science means that you are bright and have a bright future, there is nothing to worry about here.  The point that you have learnt something really interesting about the anatomy of the cockroach, doesn’t really get more than a passing thought.  But if you were more interested in the actual learning or (perhaps if it is a boring subject) why you are learning the subject and not so focussed on the grade you will receive at the end, then you will have increased your knowledge, NOT YOUR EGO.

Or perhaps you have started your own business and you decide to put on an event with the intention to get exposure, to show people what you do, convince people you are worth following.  This takes a lot of planning, time and effort and don’t get me wrong exposure is a good marketing tool, BUT if you decide to put yourself out there so you can nurture your creative side, allow your passion and imagination to shine, as well as firming up your skills and knowledge on the subject you are presenting then whatever happens with regards to attendees, followers, stalkers, exposure etc is A BONUS.

It is well worth a try next time you embark on something where you could very easily face both F words, by following the approach: Lose the expectation, enjoy and learn from the journey and whatever positive outcomes result from the action are purely a bonus.  Whether it be end of year exams, going for that new job or the next blog post you write, work with the “what am I learning from this exercise”, I guarantee it will be 100 times more rewarding than “what will I get from this exercise”.

And finally not only do you learn that it is about the experience and not the outcome, but from failure you also learn:

  • to be humble
  • to be compassionate
  • to be vulnerable
  • your limits
  • your capabilities
  • courage
  • your strengths
  • your weaknesses
  • what interests or inspires you and what doesn’t
  • to be flexible
  • to be open minded and
  • you learn more about who you are…