We all fail.
Every single person fails at stuff. Big things, small things, your fault, not your fault. Failure comes in all shapes and sizes and comes at any time. Usually it seems like the worst times, but is there ever a great time to fail? Sorta. Sorta there is a right time to fail. But in the moment of failure? No way.
There are so many things I could write about failure.
It feels horrible; scary and unsure. You may feel totally beat down or embarrassed. Giving up or running away might seem like the best option. Depression, devaluing the self, confusion and grief. All of these are common reactions to failure.
Whether you’ve given up on a long run. Or let down a friend. Lost a job. Maybe you didn’t reach a big milestone or goal. Possibly you weren’t as knowledgeable, experienced or researched as you thought. Were you rejected for something? It’s all failure. And it all sucks.
And it’s okay.
There are many thought and theories on failure. And everyone has these various opinions. This post is about my opinions. And I feel really comfortable talking on this topic because holy shit... I have failed over and over and over. Failure seems to be a somewhat constant process for me. And the truth is, it never gets easier. It always is a massive bummer. But what happens after constant failure, is that you start to care a little less each time. Of course, there are levels of failure, and the big fails hurt and leave some scars. But in general, if you fail enough, you start to get used to it in some bizarre way. Not in an “of course this happened!” kind of way, but more of an “well, there’s that” kind of way. See the difference? One is a liiiiittle more positive. A tad more surprised and a tad less self-loathing. After you fail enough, you start to understand that it’s a big part of the process in doing anything worth while.
Yep, you read that right.
FAILURE IS A BIG PART OF DOING ANYTHING WORTH WHILE.
Ask anyone who’s done something epic or hard or amazing. They’ve failed. A bunch. They’ve probably failed more times than they’ve been successful. It’s kind of like a math problem. Or something. For every bunch of fails, big and small, you’ll get a victory. But if you never fail, you will never be victorious. Because you haven’t done jack shit. And you know what? Not doing jack shit is a failure. So there you go, we all fail.
So can I do something here? Can I tell you all the reasons why failure is good and important and healthy and positive? Okay here I go.
Failure. Why it’s important. An extensive list.
- You tried. You attempted to do a thing. So many people never try to do anything. But not you, you motherfucking go-getter. You may have lost, eaten shit or been rejected. But that is one thousand times better than not trying.
- You learned something. Whether or not you realize it in the moment, failure is one of the best teachers. You may learn that this causes that, or you may learn some limitations you have. Or whooops! That kind of rock breaks! No matter the fail, there is something to learn. And that creates some badass wisdom.
- You get to know yourself better. In many ways; physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Regardless on the size of the failure or the reason for it, you’re going to do some reflection. Some thinking. Perhaps some soul searching. And through this you get to know the ins-and-outs of you.
- You get the chance to be vulnerable. And vulnerability is magnificent. It is important and makes you a better person. Be open about failures. Tell people about them. Through vulnerability, you may also learn that some of the things you consider failures, other people see as victories.
- Failure sets you free. If the worst thing that can happen is that you fail, and you fail, guess what? The worst thing happened and you’re still here and okay. And now you’ve experienced that. So there is this sense of freedom to try again, or try something new, or just move on.
- Failure teaches us that hard work pays off. Maybe not right away. Maybe not even for years. But if you keep pressing and failing over and over, at some point it will be a victory. It will.
- Failure keeps you humble. No one likes a giant asshat who treats you like a loser for failing. And if you fail a bunch, you will hopefully never be that asshat. You will be compassionate and kind. You will become the type of person people love and want to build up. Being humble is important, and failure gets you there quick.
- You will constantly check in with your goals, dreams and aspirations. Questioning what you really want, why you want it, how to go for it and if you should actually give up. Self assessment. This is fucking important. It kind of goes with being self aware; you will always know what you want and why.
- You will find out what people in your life are worth your time and energy. It’s amazing to fail and see what friends and family members stick around. This can be a painful lesson, but it’s a damn important one. Thin the crowd out a bit and find out who truly supports you. These people are worth your time.
- Failing time and time again will get you to use your brain in a more powerful way. Because you will need to think of creative ideas or plans or resolutions. New ways to do things and alternative options.
- You will become a more valuable human. I mentioned wisdom earlier. And that’s a thing failure creates. This vast wisdom that can be passed down to others. Whether it’s kiddos or a student or someone you mentor.
- You start to realize that many things are relative and you have very few priorities. The world is chaotic and so are people. Not much matters. But through failure, you learn what does matter. And that can assist you with coming out happy and victorious.
Read this stuff!
With many topics such as this, it sometimes helps to go really deep. It can be helpful to hear many perspectives and stories. So below are some books that helped me through some times of failure. Maybe they can help you too.
- Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure by Tim Harford
- How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams
- The Logic of Failure by Dietrich Dorner
- Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
It’s a short list, but a solid list. And if you decide to pick one of these up, I hope it helps you in some way to understand that failure is healthy and okay. And that it’s not the end of the world.