Failure can be defined as the lack of success. Would that imply that in order to define failure for each individual, we would first need to define success? So what is your definition of success? Is it to be rich, to drive the best cars, to live in the best house on the block? Or is it something as simple as waking up everyday being at peace with yourself? In theory then, if you aren’t driving the best car on the market, or living in the best house on the block, does that mean that you have failed? Surely not.
Thinking of failure takes me back to when I was 18 years old and had failed my learners licence test. It was a massive hit to my ego. I attended a prestigious school on a scholarship, why would I fail at something as simple as a learners licence test? Looking back, I can see the lesson in the failure. What I should have done was immediately rebook and try and understand where I went wrong. What I did was the complete opposite. I waited until my ego was less bruised and retook the test a whopping 18 months later. I never noticed this happening during my school career because there was always another test around the corner. When the responsibility to redo the test was placed on myself, I found every excuse in the book.
It never occurred to me that failure is a good thing, a chance to learn. I have recently failed an exam for my qualification. Something that would have been relatively simple. Luckily, with this test you get a breakdown of the section in which you were not proficient. Out of the four sections, I was not proficient in two. The next time I wrote, I had excelled in those two but had not given much attention to the other sections. I failed the same exam twice in a row. Yes, it is a blow to my ego, but I know to concentrate fully on all of the sections next time. Success in this example would be to pass the exam proficiently.
A book I often read in high school, Chicken Soup for the Soul was rejected by publishers 144 times. One of the greatest authors in the world, Stephen King was rejected by many publishers. As an author, surely rejection letters would count as failures.
J.K. Rowling, the first author to ever become a billionaire by being an author, was an unemployed single mother when she decided to put all of her energy into the Harry Potter series, it took an epic failure for her to dedicate her life to completing her life’s works, and that turned out to be the best decision she ever made. The books were also rejected by various publishers, but the level of determination that J.K. Rowling and these other authors who had been rejected outweighed the feelings of failure.
In her Harvard commencement speech, she speaks these profound words about the benefits of failure: ‘Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I believed I truly belonged. I was set free because my greatest fear had been realised and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter who I adore, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so, rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.’
She goes on to say: ‘Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well have not lived at all. In which case, you fail by default.’ Here is the link if you would like to hear the full speech (https://youtu.be/wHGqp8lz36c)
Failure has become taboo in the society we live in, everyone lives a life on social media that only portrays their successes, no one speaks about their failures and yet there is where all the magic happens. People who are destined to write the next best seller are crippled by the thought of failure, we need to learn to let go of these feelings and do something extraordinary. We need to get out of the mindset where one failure means that we should give up.
It is always important to remember that what society deems a failure may not always be the truth for us. We constantly need to put our progress into perspective with what our definition of success is, and it is important to define success for ourselves, because the world is always ready to give you a definition.
So what do I consider to be my biggest failure? Changing who I am to make other people happy. Giving in to making others happy at my own expense. Doing things that I did not want to do, and allowing people to influence my emotions. For staying in the darkness longer than I should have at the expense of my joy, and not standing up to defend decisions that I have made, decisions that would have made me happy instead of those who only think about themselves. My biggest failure is letting other people control my happiness and my joy, for allowing them to take away my peaceful rest at night.
What do you consider to be your biggest failure? Let me know in the comments below.
-The Uninspired Blogger