From as far back as I can remember we have been brought up to believe that failure is bad and success is good.
We have all seen those inspiring quotes like “Failure is not an option” and “Winning is all that matters.” We post them above our workspace or make it the desktop image on our computers in hopes seeing those everyday will make us winners in the end. Positive reinforcement does work especially when we say or believe something enough that it becomes our reality. But a problem that I’m starting to see is that we rarely look at the bigger picture.
What I mean by the bigger picture is what happens when life decides to be a complete asshole and ruin all your hard work. What happens when the universe tells you that your tech startup is not what you will be doing in your life? Do we ever think about what happens when regardless of our ambition, we don’t achieve?
My friends, I have news for you. Failure is no longer your worst enemy but your best friend.
The most successful visionaries, inventors, and entrepreneurs have taken failure. When we don’t achieve our goals, we immediately go into the infamous “I’m an absolute failure” mode. Folks, I cannot stress enough that being in this mode does more damage to you than you could imagine.
It keeps you from looking at the bigger picture. Not everything we attempt will result in success. Every time we take a chance or risk to step out of our comfort zone, we learn something which helps us grow and become more successful in future ventures. When Thomas Edison finally invented the lightbulb, he said “I didn’t fail a thousand times. I just found a thousand different ways it didn’t work.”
Failures also provide us clarity. Initially, when something doesn’t work out, we tend to sulk on how bad the situation is and how we completely screwed up. When the dust settles and we can shift our focus to the pros and cons of the experience, clarity brings perspective. It allows us to view what went wrong and instantaneously we look to the next venture aware of past mistakes or reflecting back on the previous experience.
If you haven’t learned this now, know this always:
You have the control and choice to decide what to do with your life. You can choose to leave or stay at a job. You can go to school if you want. You can choose to view the world anyway you see fit.
And there are also things that we don’t have control over. We don’t have control of what happens to us or other people. We don’t control of what decisions people make.
Life has to bring us incredible amount of uncertainty in order for us to learn lessons. That’s what makes us grow and become better people. Imagine if we knew everything that was going to happen to us when we tried something new or took a risk in life. Of course, some of us would like to know the result since humans have an innate fear of not being in control but I think if we all knew what life had in store for us, we could never learn and grow.
So if you happen to be in “I’m an absolute failure” mode, don’t be. It’s the best thing that happened to you. You just have to change your perspective.
From the 1950s and for decades afterwards, there were many, many successful space flights, which led many of us to believe that when it came to space flight, we were invincible. The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred on January 28, 1986, when it broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members. NASA has worked hard to make space flight safer and safer every year. But that safety came at a steep price.
You have to welcome failure as your best friend. Without failure, how else are we supposed to learn and be successful?
Reprinted from Mike Liguori on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mikeliguori