Failure is something we humans can’t comprehend, raised on the notion that failure is for the weak; To fail is to lose, and no-one likes losing. But failing is inevitable, it is a part of life. I failed to get out of bed before 11am this morning, even when I promised myself I’d wake up early to start this blog. I could have decided not to write it at all, but I will not let failure take over my day. And what about when this post goes live? What if hardly any-one reads it? A lack of success is indeed a failure, right? Do I stop writing, or do I pick up my iPad and start again?
We choose to ignore our failures- rolling them up like a pair of odd socks and shoving them to the back of the drawer, never to be seen again until one dismal day where you’re forced to confront them because you forgot to do your dirty laundry. You’re unprepared for the reality that you have to now walk around Asda with your toe uncomfortably poking out the hole because you didn’t tackle the issue of the cotton failed sock when you first noticed the fault. We are all holey socks sometimes, hiding amongst the gloriously glamorous pink thongs and comforting wooly slipper we dream of being in the undies drawer. But let there be no shame in your battered and bruised state. I’m sure it’s provided you with an interesting story to tell.
Every failure teaches a man something, if he will learn; and you are too sensible a man not to learn from this failure.”
Sitting comfortably with our failures is an unnatural reaction. Do I want to admit that I perhaps failed at the dream job I had hoped for as a kid? That maybe I could’ve done more, been bigger, been brighter. Or face up to the fact it really wasn’t you, it was me? I could’ve spoke up, been more confident, not text you twelve times in one night. The reality is that our failures are uncomfortable- no, they’re toe-curlingly excruciating- and our knee-jerk reaction is to hide them away and never talk about them, whilst they silently eat away at us inside. But what if you saw failure as one of your greatest successes? That not booking that job led you down a networking path which has got you the role you’re in today. That the boy telling you you’re categorically not his girlfriend made you realise you needed to loosen up a little. That not having kids by the time you’re 25 has allowed you to travel the World with your mates. Failures are only mistakes if you let them be.
A New Year is approaching, full of hope and willingness to be better than the last. Resolutions will be made and promises will be announced, but by the end of Spring it may all feel like it’s crumbling down.
You haven’t managed to give up smoking – but at least you tried.
Your new business idea hasn’t taken off – but you have ten loyal customers.
You haven’t lost any weight at the gym – but your heart will be healthier.
Amongst all the personal challenges you’ll face in the New Year, let it be your mission that you’ll sit comfortably with any failures, even if just for a while and give yourself room to learn from the lessons which arise. No one becomes a success the first time around. We must learn how to fail, to be flabbergastingly great.