Failure Means Progress5 min read
I love failure. Yeah, you read that right. I love failure; I live to fail. I enjoy every moment of it. But I wasn’t always like this. I hated it and I allowed it to consume me to the point of paralysis once. Never again. This is what I’ve learned…
If I received a penny for every time I failed, I’d be a millionaire by now. Most people view failure like it’s something evil. Failure means progress. It means that you’re doing something, it means that you’re working and you’re moving forward. The trick is not to let the failure consume or define you. You have to embrace it and learn from it, but if you allow it to consume you, then you really have failed.
Hard Fails and Soft Fails
There are hard fails and soft fails, and I’ve had both. The soft fails are those I can quickly learn from and continue to refine whatever it is I’m working on, but the hard fails… those hurt, big time. The bigger the risk, the harder the fail, should you fail. Sometimes, you succeed when you risk big, but at some point, you make a decision that leads to a fail, sometimes a big fail. I’ve found that this is the hardest of them all to accept and recover from, because it blindsides you while you’re on your success high; and let’s face it, these fails humble you.
I’ve failed a lot, but only experienced a hard, paralysing fail from a massive risk once. So what caused that fail? I listened to someone else, when I should have listened to myself; but if you’re in a partnership, you’re supposed to listen to the other partners and not be a control freak right? Sometimes, that’s not the case. If your gut screams something, listen intently. Learn from my mistake. If you’re a good judge of situations, and you’re good at assessing risk (this only comes with practice) then listen to your own intuition. Don’t be ignorant if you’re unsure. Admit to yourself that you’re unsure and let someone who is sure take the reins. Don’t get cocky because this will ensure you never recover from a fail (because you’ll be ignorant and blame everyone else but yourself); and this impacts everyone else who is affected by that fail.
Rock Bottom is The Foundation of Success
Rock bottom is the most sturdy foundation you will ever have, because it’s full of all your fails, lessons and experience. Rock bottom is somewhere I’m uniquely familiar with. I’ve hit rock bottom, hard, more than once and I’ll continue to hit it, if only to get back up, dust myself off and try again. I’ve learned this most recently at pole dance. There are so many soft fails. I’ll try a trick or spin, and my form is shit; especially on the left side. But, the soft fails are about refining the technique until you get it right. And the interesting part is you can get it today, and not get it tomorrow, or the day after, and possibly not even the week after! You just have to keep trying it over and over until you get it again. It’s all part of the process and I enjoy it because I know that I’ll get it right the more I fail.
This has taught me how to deal with the hard fails; the ones that cripple you. When you’ve had a paralysing hard fail and you’re done licking your wounds and feeling sorry for yourself, go do something that has soft fails so you’ll rebuild that confidence and familiarity with discomfort. And soon enough, you’ll find yourself wanting to do exactly what landed you that hard fail, but this time, you’re armed with the knowledge, experience and expertise of your hard fail process.
Comfort is the Enemy of Success
To succeed is to have an intimate knowledge of and strong relationship with discomfort. I have the rare ability to enjoy discomfort. I don’t like being comfortable; for me, that’s a sign of complacency and giving up, settling. I hate the idea of settling… it’s unsettling. And it’s unsettling because I know that it is the antagonist of success. Sometimes, you will have to celebrate tiny successes over a long period of failure, and other times, you will experience a great success virtually overnight. Enjoy the process. Enjoy the pain. Enjoy the suffering because you know to yourself that no matter what, you’re failing forward and failure is progress.
Writing this piece was difficult. It took me two days of staring at a blank canvas, not “knowing” where to start because it meant that I had to face my failures and use them as writing putty. Even now, some of the small fails hurt. And it does not help that I’m writing this after failing at a lunge via a dislocated kneecap. Failure is daily for me; but I would not have it any other way.
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Stay humble. Stay uncomfortable. And keep failing.