Growing up, I’ve always had a little slogan Born and raised to fail. Crazy right? People would often respond with, “Why so negative?” The truth is, failure isn’t a negative and in what world do we live where challenging yourself is considered a negative? You have been given roughly eighty years worth of time on this planet and when it’s up, it’s game over. It’s time to stop fearing failure and accept it for what it is : A way to grow.
1. We Are All Afraid To Fail.
We as people since the time we are born and till the day we die are always told to try and be successful. Your parents, teachers, mentors, will have shunned the word failure from your vocabulary, and if you are a normal kid, then you have yet to experience proper failure through participation ribbons, equality in the classroom, and “Everyone wins” style of games.
You learn to fear failure. People have accepted that failure in itself is the most embarrassing or degrading thing possible. We have associated failure to being unsuccessful and it’s kind of funny because most people see successful, as having success. They don’t see that failure is pushing beyond your success to be successful. There is a reason all time greats in sports come from failure. Because failure, unlike success, is something that you can drive on. How many famous celebrities do you know say “Well, they told me I wasn’t good at it.” The truth was, they weren’t. We all know they didn’t go to bed and wake up as the greatest thing on TV. The truth was they were at home or in the gym, failing by themselves thousands of times over. But we pretend that those events never occurred. We act like those who are successful just are. Failure is just a little undertone every successful person holds on to.
Successful people can’t count the number of times they’ve failed and they won’t mention failure because in our society if you fail a thousand times you’re not a dreamer or a challenger. You’re a hopeless failure, who should just stay working nine to five and if you manage to succeed a thousand times the moment you fail it’s game over.
I idolize people that have reached success, and you do too. Yet, sometimes we as people forget to realize that the people before them who failed and quit, are the people that built them the podium they stand on. We will always forget the johns that could have been, by only remembering the have been.
But how many kids grew up aspiring to be successful, only to ignore that guitar in the corner for the fear of being laughed at because they started guitar lessons? Or maybe a little kid started writing to themselves wishing to be an author, only to hear in the back of their head or from their classmates “you will never be an author!” followed by ignorant laughs?. Or that kid on the basketball team who wants to be the best basketball player in the world. Yet due to failure, he doesn’t spend the extra time in. You see, we always flaunt the greatest yet refuse to acknowledge the sacrifice to get there.
I’ll have you know I was told once that I spent so much energy becoming good at everything, that I never became great at anything. I told them it was true, as to much as I love failure, I’m afraid of failure. I’m not perfect, I have written hundreds and hundreds of pages, and attempted to be published numerous times that all have led to: failure. But every time I fail, I pick up past written books, chapters, and I don’t see unsuccessful I see successful. Why? Because although I may never be perfect, I can tell you one thing: I see growth.
From my first chapter ever written to my last I know I’m getting better. I’m growing from my failure.
So please, go pick up that guitar, go experiment with paint. Do what makes you happy.
2. Growing is Learning to Understand That Failure is a Natural Part of Living.
I read an article once that involved a nurse in a hospice who asked every patient that she ever had a five step question. You can find it here
But what breaks my heart is the very first answer :
I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it. Most people will never accomplish their dreams for many reasons, but the biggest when it comes to choice? Is the fear of failure. The fear of being ripped from beneath that comfortable space in society where people expect you to be.
But will you be content in dying and not giving your dreams a voice or a chance? All because of a little thing known as failure? Something, that if you choose you could take and learn from it. You could ask yourself “Why did I fail?” and, “Is it a bad thing?” You could even smile about it. I know it sounds weird, smiling over FAILURE. But I want you to look back right now and think of everything you’ve accomplished in your life.
If you can find one thing where you succeeded before failure you better let me know. Because you can’t and never will. You didn’t wake up already having the knowledge of swimming, riding a bike, walking. You didn’t wake up and know proper English, math. At one point you probably failed a test and was forced to relearn the theory until you knew it.
You failed, and you did it. Failure is the natural process of growth. No one just creates perfection the first try. No one just wakes up one day and runs a marathon, writes a book, creates a painting, invents Facebook or the next thing to save mankind. And if you can conquer failure, you can conquer anything you want in the world.
The only thing that is stopping you from living, and reaching your goals/dreams is the little thing in your head screaming “I want to do that, but that’s not me. I’ll never be good at that.” People roll with it. When they see something they like that little voice comes up again, and says, “Hello Johnny! Don’t touch that, don’t even think about it. That’s not you, You will NEVER be good at that! Goodbye!”
You say, “Okay.” and continue living mundane, because you’re not meant to be famous, meant to be successful.
You’re meant to be you. Except ironically, you’re not living you because you allow all your dreams and aspirations to drown in failure. You need to study so you can learn and then one day you can teach, one day you can show and tell. You can be an example. You can be an example to your children on what success is. You can be an example of someone who challenged failure and became great. Or you can be an example of someone who had dreams and aspirations and with the fear of failing, accomplished nothing. Forgotten.
You could look at the world and say “There are 7 billion people out there, I will never be successful.” Or you could realize this one important detail.
If I wake up today, go to work, then die. I will have died unsuccessful.
If I wake up today, pursue my dreams, fail, then die, I will have died successful.
If I wake up today, pursue my dreams, succeed, then die, I will have died successful.
So next time you hear failure slip from your mouth you better taste it. Because anything that screams failure also screams a possibility for success.
Your room to grow.
– Elliott Morreau
Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com