“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorius triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”
When we were kids failure had a different meaning than it has today.
When you learned to ride your bike you fell over. Over and over again. Maybe you scraped your knee, cried a little. And then you got up again. And started pedalling. Soon you were riding the bike like you had done it all your life.
It would be nice if we could all keep this way to thinking about failure as we grow older. Some probably do. Some don’t. Why?
A few reasons that I can come up with from my personal experiences are:
- Being too hard on oneself. If people fail they may be way to hard on themselves. A failure is rarely the end of the world, but it is easy to fall into to the trap of thinking that is. So learn to lighten up more and give yourself a break.
- School and society grades us and makes failure something bad. When we learn to ride the bike or walk we don’t think about failure being something bad. We just keep moving after we fall down. But later, in school people start telling us that failure is something bad, that it and taking risks are things to avoid. We are told such thing and we are graded. And so throughout the years, with the help of school and what other people around us tell us, we develop a fear of failure.
- The ego helps to develop a victim identity. As we attach more importance and weight to a failure it can become an important part of our identity. We may fail a couple of times and it devastates us. And so we may view ourselves as “failures”. And the ego likes identify itself with things. Sometimes success. Sometimes failure. And even though you are just a person who failed on a few occasions your ego – a little voice in your head – tells you that you are a failure. And then it goes on throughout the years telling you things to reinforce and make that identity more powerful. And since people tend to treat you as you view yourself, they may reinforce this pattern. So don’t take your thoughts too seriously. Books by someone like Eckhart Tolle may help you do that. Or posts like Just Do It! and 8 Ways to Return to the Present Moment.
- It’s not “normal”. If you want to fit in perfectly, then seeing failure as something bad is a better bet than seeing it as something that can be quite positive and beneficial.
- Too little of being in the now. Children tend to be more present than adults. They do what they want without having their mind scattered on all kinds of other stuff. Of course, you can’t just run around in the grass with your arms stretched out imagining that you’re an aeroplane half the day. You have responsibilities and such things. But you can still incorporate being present more of the time into your everyday life and thereby improving your concentration and performance and decrease the amount of time you spend over thinking your challenges. And perhaps, once in a while, you can still run around playing aeroplane.
I think Beckett has it kinda right when he says: no matter. People make failure into a large matter, perhaps even into a part of their identity. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should give up your common sense and risk all your savings on some wonky business deal.
Now, what is good about failure?
1. You learn.
Instead of seeing failure as something horrible you can start to view it more as a learning experience. When standing in the middle of a failure, you can ask yourself questions like:
What’s awesome about this situation?
What can I learn from this situation?
There is always one lesson or many more in what you may see as a failure.
2. You gain experiences you could not get any other way.
Ideally, you probably want to learn from other people’s mistakes and failures. That’s not always easy to do though. Sometimes you just have to fail on your own to learn a lesson and to gain an experience no one can relate to you in mere words.
3. You become stronger.
Every time you fail you become more accustomed to it. You realize more and more that it’s not the end of the world. Failing may in fact become a bit anticlimactic – just like when succesfully reaching a goal – after you have spent much time building a grandiose image of it in your head.
You get desensitized. You can handle things that would have been very hard to handle a few years back. Failing can also a have an exhilarating component because even though you failed you at least took a chance. You didn’t just sit on you hands doing nothing. And that took quite a bit of courage and determination.
4. Your chances of succeeding increases.
Every time you fail you can learn and increase your inner strength. So every failure can make you more and more likely to succeed. And there is probably no other way to the success you dream of without a whole bunch of failures along the way.
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