People often think of success as a singular moment. It’s not.
Think of it this way. One day you get sick and tired of always being sick and tired by the way you look. You can’t stand seeing yourself in the mirror, so you decide it’s time to go to the gym.
You work out for a day or two. What happens after that? Do you see any results? Do the people around you?
If nothing changed, are you a failure? What happened?
Do a lot of people give up because after one, two, twenty workouts, there’s still no visible change? There’s no one to acknowledge their work? What if they quit, and then start over, and then quit again, and then start again… and one day, they just keep going?
If they keep working out, going to the gym, day after day after day, and then, one day, they look in the mirror and they go like, “Wow.” And all their friends and family congratulate them on what they achieved.
Is that the moment when they became successful? Or did everything before that moment lead to the moment when everyone else acknowledged their success?
I’d say they were a success from the moment they picked up their first weight or stepped for the first time on the treadmill. And they were a success during their second workout, their third…
They were a success when they failed to go to the gym, or when they failed to go on that run, or when they quit working out for a month or two…
Failure and success are not opposites. And success is not the about achieving a goal, obtaining something, or being admire by people. Being successful means enjoying a process that you know will help shape the person you want to be.
And you know what’s the funny part about all this?
That failure is an integral part of it all.
Without failure, there’s no success. There’s no reason to succeed.
The average person quits smoking anywhere between 6 to 30 times before finally giving up. Imagine that they do give up. On their eighth attempt. When did they fail? When did they succeed? Could they have managed to give up entirely on smoking were it not for the failed attempts and what those attempts taught them?
So, how would I define success, so it does not make us anxious when it does not happen overnight?
Success is the process of doing what you know is right, whether you feel like it or not, whether people approve or not, and doing it over and over again, despite obstacles or setbacks.
Failure is inevitable
“The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.”Stephen McCranie
Failure is uncomfortable. Awkward. Painful, even. But the only way you can become better is not by getting things right from the first try, but by failing over and over again until you get it right.
Nothing worth doing is easy, so accept the fact that you will inevitably fail.
Failure is our main source of progress and learning.
Use failure to your advantage
This might not come as a surprise to you, but the first thing you have to do is to figure out what went wrong and why. Be honest with yourself. Assume responsibility. If you try to talk yourself out of your failure by blaming other people or just giving up on what you want to do, that’s when you become a failure, and there’s nothing to save you from that.
Using your failures to your advantage
Not only are failures a way to improve yourself, but also a great way to figure out what’s important for you.
If you cannot overcome failure, then perhaps you do not want it bad enough.
We all fall in love with the idea of success in one field or another. But the truth is that we’re not always willing to pay the price.
In order to learn from your failures, you have to ask yourself some important, yet tough questions:
- What did I do wrong?
Focus on what happened, how it happened, not on the emotions you’ve attached to the event. Remember: you are not a failure. You have just failed. And failure is a stepping stone to success.
- What would I have done better?
Draw a clear distinction between what is and what isn’t in your control. You can’t improve upon what you can’t control. Sometimes things don’t work out because of external factors. There’s no reason for me to blame myself for the current economic situation because of the coronavirus pandemic.
- What do I have to do to improve? The obstacle is the way, true, but you have to see a way around it, a way to use it to your advantage. You need to figure out how this failure helps you: what lessons have you learned, what are the optimal steps towards success, what exactly needs to be done to avoid repeating the same mistake over and over again.
When you think about these questions long and hard, you will come up with new insights about yourself, the person you are, and the person you want to be in the future.
The trick when it comes to failure is to let go of all emotion, while also reframing it for what it is: an opportunity to grow.
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