“A man’s errors are his portals of discovery.” ~James Joyce
Everyone has a story of failure and disadvantage—those things we wish were done differently, better, or not at all. Take these stories for instance:
A speaker intending to be unifying and encouraging onstage leaves the audience disappointed and bored instead.
A lone manuscript is rejected by publishing houses over 27 times, dismissed as too fanciful, fake, and “never gonna sell.”
A poor 11 year old, deprived of toys his entire childhood, trudges through sleet and snow on his newspaper route in order to help support his family.
An author struggles to write a novel while a divorced, jobless, and homeless single parent facing a deep depression.
Maybe your story sounds a lot like one of these? Is your situation cause to give up or is it motivation to keep pressing forward?
I, myself, press forward past my bouts of feeling like a failure. Like when I ran for student body treasurer in the seventh grade and lost to my opponent. Or when I got fired from my first job after college. And especially when I had to dissolve my two-year old, bankrupt business at the turn of the 2008 recession.
Fast forward. At the end of junior high, I graduated valedictorian. Weeks after I lost my job, I found work with a company that was a much better fit for my skill set and personality. And after shutting down my business, I went back to school, earned my Master’s in Business Administration, and graduated with honors.
Not having perspective vast enough to see how failure could actually help me, I thought I met my end during those painful days. Each event felt tragic. But I consistently came to find there was something else to be enjoyed after one door closed.
Looking back, I see it was all good, everything that happened.
What if we had that hindsight now—amidst the difficult times? Wouldn’t our experience be much more bearable (if not enjoyable)?
The opportunities that arose after the so-called failures made what I wanted before pale in comparison with what I eventually got. I just had to be patient to see it unfold.
You and Failure
Failure is defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as “the action or state of not functioning.” In other words, failure’s something that stops; gets you nowhere. Do you stop moving, stop breathing, or stop living when things don’t go as planned?
This body only stops when its heart stops beating. So every day it keeps ticking is another chance at progress.
Don’t you always take another step, even if it was just to pick yourself up out of bed today? Even when you think you failed, you haven’t because you’re still taking in air.
Failure is a misnomer. It is an attempt to describe an event that leaves us with nothing—no opportunities, no chances, no understanding. When is that ever the case?
Failure is only failure if you say it is. It only exists if you’re not willing to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and walk on. Besides, success depends on those struggles, those attempts, those defeats. Success requires that climb up.
You and Success
Success is a journey; it consists of every trial and triumph combined. And the best kind of journey…
- makes you stronger
- teaches you more about yourself
- gives you insight and answers
- is an opportunity to evaluate and do different
- is better than the regret of not doing
- puts your goals within reach
Everything that happens contributes to a new awakening, a new way of life, a new way of being. We just have to see it as such.
When we don’t stop at failure, we’re bound for success. So really, failure is success in the making…
Which brings me back to the four stories I mentioned earlier. They didn’t end there. Their journeys continued:
The speaker was Abraham Lincoln delivering the (now legendary) Gettysburg Address.
The manuscript was eventually published. It was one of many books written by Theodor Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss.
The boy, Walt, went on to create the childhood he never had and opened Disneyland, a take on his last name.
The author finally finished the novel. Using the pen name, J.K. Rowling, she wrote of a boy wizard named Harry Potter.
Batteries fail, people don’t. We’re always full of potential to do different, do more, and do better. Failure is what you thought you couldn’t be; what you thought you couldn’t do; what you thought you couldn’t have. Change that thought.
Start looking at life in terms of what you can and will do from where you are with what you’ve got right now. Start looking toward success no matter what…and make lemonade!
Success is our lesson learned. Success is our silver lining. Success is our second chance.
What failures have you overcome only to find yourself living your own success story? What keeps you pressing forward?
Photo by Walt Stoneburner