We all fail. Sometimes we fail big, something we fail small but inevitably we all fail at something at some point in our lives. Off the top of my head, right now, I can think of several things I have failed at over the years. Relationships, friendships, exams, even jobs, just to name a few….
The older I have gotten, though, the more I realize that while the word “failure” tends to have a negative connotation, I have learned so much from each of my own failures that that maybe failing isn’t so bad after all. While usually, at least initially, it kinda well sucks to fail at something, if you really stop to think about your own failures, haven’t you learned something pretty significant from each of those experiences?
Maybe you just learn not to do that same thing again. Maybe you learn it is worth another shot but maybe not in the same manner you tried before. Maybe you learn what to look for and/or what to avoid the next time a particular situation comes around. Maybe you just learn that something isn’t right for you.
Whatever it may be, I am hard-pressed to think of a time that I failed at something that I didn’t become a least a little bit wiser and more in tune with myself because of it. So, what else can failure teach us? For starters:
Failure Can Clarify Our Path
I wholeheartedly agree with the old saying, “When one door closes another one opens”. Failing at one thing can signal to us that maybe that thing we thought we wanted so badly wasn’t actually meant for us but perhaps there is something better waiting right around the corner. Sometimes you can put everything single thing you have into something or someone and in the end, it still doesn’t work out like you had hoped it would. Is it a tough pill to swallow? ABSOLUTELY! Do you sometimes feel dejected and even bewildered by the way the situation turned out? OF COURSE! Can you still learn a lot from enduring this kind of failure? SO MUCH!
This is a case where I believe life is telling you to reassess where you are putting your energy. It is saying, “hey great effort over there but look over here now!” Take all that glorious drive, ambition, and desire, and let’s put it somewhere that is better suited for you. This is also a great lesson on how to pivot instead of throwing in the towel. Just because one thing didn’t work out for, you doesn’t mean the next thing won’t. Don’t let one failure stop you from getting out there and finding what truly deserves your time and energy.
Failure Can Reveal Our Strength
When we fail at something in life and then must deal with the repercussions of that failure, we are often forced to call upon that inner strength we all possess just to sometimes make it through and live to fight another day. But we do just that, don’t we? We fight. And in that fight, if we really stop to think about it, our true strength can sometimes be revealed. Even if we don’t know we are fighting and evolving and getting stronger, that is exactly what is happening behind the scenes.
That realization very often is the exact thing we need to punch forward and either try, try again, or as I mentioned above, pivot and try something that might be better suited for us. And in those moments when the failure is fresh and the feelings of disappointment are raw, remember one thing, you have survived every single thing life has thrown at you up until this point, including all the really hard, sad, and trying things. You are strong. Probably so much stronger than you even realize so just get back up and continue to fight the good fight no matter how long it takes.
Failure Can Force Us Out of Comfort Zone…
If you really stop to think about it, what is so great about being in your comfort zone? Nothing grows there. Nothing new happens there. And while yes, it is comfortable, would you rather find yourself in the same place, day after day, month after month, year after year, or at least try, maybe fail, but try again to reach for your goals? For me staying stagnant is much worse than facing my fear of failure and at least being able to tell myself I made an attempt to better my situation.
Real, true growth, can only honestly happen when we get uncomfortable after all. Even just practicing taking a few steps out of your comfort zone can teach you amazingly useful lessons on how to adapt, and deal with change, which is of course inevitable in life. If we fail trying something new, great, there are probably a million other ways to approach that problem or situation. Keep trying until you find the one that works.
If you keep failing at something because you are doing it the same way over and over again, take a step back, realize what you have been doing isn’t working and force yourself out of that comfort zone and into a new way of thinking. I guarantee that getting out of that rut you might be in will spark new creativity, maybe reenergize your fight, ignite a possibly stalled motivation and maybe even see you accomplishing that goal or achieving that next step in life that you have been striving for.
Failure Makes Us Tough
Let’s face it….life can be hard. While there are so many wonderful and beautiful things all around us that we will experience in a lifetime, we also all go through periods that aren’t all sunshine and roses. One of the most important tools that failure can arm us with is toughness. Mental toughness, emotional toughness, and even physical toughness can all be gained by trying and failing and picking ourselves back up when it really counts. Failure can force us to pick ourselves up from the lowest point, dust ourselves off and get back on that proverbial horse after being bucked off one too many times. It can teach us that while success may not be immediate it will come if you just keep on trying different ways of getting there.
It can also make us take an honest look at ourselves, take stock of the decisions we have been making, and recognize if we are the ones holding ourselves back. Being brutally honest with ourselves is seldom easy but failing enough times unavoidably leads to having to have those tough conversations where you admit to yourself that what you have been doing isn’t working. Taking responsibility for our own actions and failures isn’t easy but it builds character, resilience and in the end a much more transparent and sincere awareness of who we are and what we are capable of.
Failing is never fun. In fact, sometimes it is downright painful. Did you ever try to climb a really tall tree when you were a kid and then took an unfortunate tumble when the top branches weren’t as sturdy as you might have thought? Yeah, OW! Have you ever trusted the wrong person and then ended up with a severely bruised if not broken heart? Yeah, that one really hurts! But in both those scenarios hopefully, you learned something which helped you in the future stay a little safer toughened you up for the next go of it. Failing teaches all kinds of really important and useful life lessons if we really stop to think about it. So let’s try to change the narrative a little bit on how we view it. Embrace the suck of it just a bit, keep your head held high, and learn the lesson that life is trying to teach you. I bet you will come out the other side a little happier, more self-aware, and even more bad a$$ than you went in!