I’d recently attended a seminar and heard a young girl mention in a moment of bravery how she feared failing in her life. The remark really hit a nerve with me, sort of made me sad and angry at the same time. Why did we place so much emphasis on success? Why is failure always the bad guy? The speaker asked if anyone in the audience had an answer to this remark. I put my hand up.
“Failure is essentially the best thing that will ever happen to you. You should fail daily, if you can learn to make failure your friend now, you’ll be unstoppable for the rest of your life.”
Sure, back in my early 20s I placed a lot of importance on success and it became my primary motivator to ‘make things happen.’ It’s all I thought about; how to be successful, how to be the best, The 48 Laws of power etc. I studied the success stories of people I looked up to, I even went as far as studying their failures to make sure I didn’t hinder my own road to success. I was obsessed to a point of narcissism. I avoided failure and the concept of failure at all costs. Failure was not an option. Failure would have been the death of me.
What ended up happening when I achieved the success I was seeking? Nothing really, I only became bored. I wasn’t learning as much anymore and I found that I became less hungry as my life became easier. I gained more insight, knowledge and skills on my way up than I did when things levelled out and I got what I wanted. What happened when all that went away and I started living my life in limbo land? I no longer identified with my profession, my passion or worst yet, myself. I didn’t identify with anything at all. I spent every day confused, disappointed and feeling like a failure. For many years, it’s the only story I told myself on repeat until the day came where I realised that failure, or my idea of failure was actually my friend. I decided to make failure my best friend. Failure provided me with clarity and in this clarity came a different perspective in life. Over the years, I capitalised on my fear of failure and I became more comfortable living with myself. Most importantly, I learned how to be friends with myself. If I didn’t like me, how the hell was I supposed to expect you to?
Making mistakes only means you’re actually doing something with yourself and your life and I was always doing something, up to something or on a mission in my life. What I learned about myself when I thought I was failing was a lot more beneficial to my character than when I had it all. My failure and living in limbo land gave me the courage to pack-my-ass out of Sydney and move to Europe where I gained an even greater insight into my emotional intelligence. Do you know what? My emotional intelligence is my greatest asset in this present moment.
I define and judge people by who they are when all their monetary values they identify with are removed. Who are you with nothing but your character to show? This applies also in friendships. I don’t care who you are to me when we are on good terms, I care about who you become when our friendship hits a knife in the road.
These analogies I only have failure to thank for. If it weren’t for failure, I’d take everyone at face value and believe who they tell me they are without actually walking the talk. Why? Because everyone is good to you when you are successful, everyone wants to help you when your life looks put together, everyone is your friend when you have a wave they can ride. But who are your friends when there’s no wave to ride? Fortunately for me, I’ve got the same friends today as I did ten years ago but I’ve endured plenty of riff raff in between.
Throughout the past two and a half years I’ve come to realise that some people need a Psychologist the way others need a drink, some people are comfortable in a 9-5 job but some only need a passion to get out of bed each morning. If you don’t have that thing that excites you to your bones, the feeling of emptiness often overshadows. I know this feeling very well, I made it my friend. This feeling should be the driving force to get you motivated to figure out what you love to do and how to make a living from it. That is, my friends- The ultimate success.
Fail. Fail daily. At least once a day. Failure Doesn’t Define You, It Teaches You.
Never Stop Learning.