Back when I used to teach, I would ask my students how they know someone is successful. I usually get some combination of the following answers
-they make a lot of money
-they are on x sports team
-they are an actor, singer, comedian, famous
-they have a college degree
-they have a good job
-they have a nice house/car
– they don’t fail
The answers didn’t shock me because, at 16, I would have also defined it with several of those categories.
Few things change as people grow into adulthood. There might be a few shifts such as have a family with x amount of kids, find a soulmate, pay the bills, to take nice vacations/travel, get a promotion at work, make x amount of money.
Not failing seems to still be a definition of success to many people. The fact that the definition of failure means lack of success doesn’t help people viewing failure as a bad thing.
The fact is that in order to be successful, one MUST fail. If the thought of this sends you spiraling into a panic attack, you are not alone. For some reason, people think that success means never have failing..ever. This is simply not true. Some of the greatest people in history failed at something. Michael Jordan didn’t make his high school basketball team. Thomas Edison said “I didn’t fail. I just found 10,000 ways it won’t work.” Nobody comes out of the womb perfect and successful…per most people’s definition of success. In fact, many children fail at walking. They stand up, they fall. They stand up, they fall. By definition, this is lack of success. But, one day, they stay up and take a wobbly step forward, then another step..then you can’t keep up with them. You don’t see a toddler saying…well, fuck it. It looks like I’ll never walk so forget trying, crawling will have to do. No, they get back up and try again. And again. And again. Until they can do it.
Failure must take place in order for success to happen. Failure, despite what society tells you, is not a bad thing. It’s a wonderful, magic, amazing thing that allows you to learn what does and does not work. It also gives you personal growth. It allows you to be more creative, to think outside the box, to be resilient, and to get a little uncomfortable. The bigger the success, the bigger the failure that precedes it. Failure only become TRUE failure when you give up. Challenges come up, it’s up to you to figure out how to rise above them.
You don’t build a Lego Millenium Falcon overnight. You build it piece by piece. You put a piece in the wrong place (fail) so you learn which piece goes there. Eventually, you have a complete Millenium Falcon, but only after hours and hours of work, mistakes (failures) and persistence.
Embrace your “failures.” Love your “failures.” Look forward to them. Make failures your bitch.