We live in a failure-phobic culture.
We are so terrified to be seen as deficient, less-than, weak.
We want to avoid admitting failure and experiencing failure at all costs. And when we do fail, instead of acknowledging it, we have learned how to spin it away with rationalizations, justifications because the belief is that accepting failure is like accepting defeat.
But what if our failures are important experiences that help us find our victories? Against popular belief, failures are often intrinsic with the path to a victory.
Without failures, there would not be cures to diseases.
Without failure, we would keep dating the same guy again and again… Sometimes this takes a lot of fails for us to finally date a different kind of person. (I know this one from experience.)
Without failure, we would keep going down a path that keeps us stuck and in pain.
Failure lets us know that things are not working, that we need a change, to do something different.
To risk failure takes courage, faith and trust.
To never risk failure is living in fear; not healthy fear but irrational fear that strips us of our power, our identity, our worth. Many live in constant awareness of what “others” think while trying to get approval from this collective “other”. That is exhausting and speeds up the tail spin to feeling really out of control.
Failure is not a final destination but provides navigational information.
Failure is often, but not always, subjective. If you need to get 70% to pass an exam and got 65%, you failed the exam. But YOU are not a failure. A failing grade is an indication there is room for growth, change and maybe a need to ask for help.
Failure is a guide post and data. Failure means something is not working and gives opportunity, hope and direction.
Failure doe not always mean defeat, the end, shame. (Shame says you are not good enough, you are not worthy of connection, you do not have meaning unless you perform a certain way deemed “enough” by culture.)
Failure can be a powerful support; a built in ego check and even an inspiration.
Risking failure means being open to triumph.
Therefore, (re)defining failure is crucial.
I often hear people say that they are a failure if they:
- lose or gain weight (depending on their struggles with disordered eating);
- stay single;
- are not perfect;
- don’t just suck it up and move on;
- show vulnerability;
- make mistakes;
- do not appear to have it all together;
and the list goes on.
If we look at failure as something to avoid, then we cease living the life we are called to live and become prisoners to court of public opinion.
It takes guts to feel bad, to admit flaws and to make mistakes. It takes even more courage to push back and fight to believe a truth that no one may know but you.
How do you define failure? Does failure inspire you or paralyze you – or a little of both? 🙂