Recently, I had a discussion with a woman about the notion of failure. She said that she once attended a women’s workshop and one of the topics for conversation was failure, the key question being, “If you knew you could ‘never fail’ what would you do?” This question (and most questions like this) says something to me. Is it the actual event that constitutes failure, or rather is failure related to feelings of rejection associated with not reaching a specific goal? Likely both of these problems work in tandem with one another to create a pretty big anxiety cocktail.
Writer Francesca Lia Block, recently wrote a blog entry to discuss her fear of rejection, particularly with respect to the rising popularity of the Internet.
One of the hardest things about being an artist is putting your soul on the line to be scrutinized and criticized. When I began my career this felt a little less risky than it does today; with the wonder of the Internet, came a lot more vulnerability for the artist. My parents taught me to express myself without censorship or judgment and this philosophy carried me through for many years.
She goes on to encourage her writing students to become fearless–fear of failure should never be a barrier.
What people, especially women (as we tend to be VERY hard on ourselves), *fail* (pun intended) to think about is that failure is as subjective as success. Also, without failure, how can there be success? Kinda like, without some perceived bad in the world, how can we allot other events/experiences as being good?! Now I’m not attempting to get too deeply philosophical but it’s food for thought.
Failure, whether perceived or not, should never prevent one from going out for his/her dreams. Ever. In fact, without failure success likely will remain out in the ether as an unachievable thing. Trust me, and here’s why:
Failure is Integral for Growth
Time and time again entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and motivational speakers discuss they were once looked upon as useless. Some of these people include the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Vera Wang and even Albert Einstein. After a mistake or a failure there’s opportunity for reflection on what went wrong and other methodologies to consider for the future. Then, with the next attempt at a goal or project, the attempt is made with knowledge gained from the previous failure. What’s more is that the person has a chance to self-reflect too. Why did this fail? Am I on the right path? Not only can one see his/her ventures grow intellectually but one can grow emotionally as well.
Failure Helps Foster Creativity
Going back to the bit about reflecting on what went wrong. In this process, our minds become sharper and more aligned with our creative sides. Coming at a problem from multiple angles necessitates creative thought, and within that creative thought new ideas are borne. Maybe the original goal was not meant to be–maybe something cooler and more innovative is on the horizon. To arrive at this awesome realization/goal cannot be possible without failure first. The evolution of skill, idea, and ability cannot happen without a bit of free falling!
Failure Grows Confidence
We all know the saying once you fall to get right back up, right? If we didn’t, would we have ever learned how to walk? Would we know how to read, ride bikes, or drive cars? Think about it. Failure, and fear of failure really boils down to perspective. I didn’t learn how to ride a bike until I was 14 years old!! I was afraid of falling. Once I did fall (a LOT) eventually I was riding my bike here, there, and everywhere. I moved to Los Angeles to act and model in 2006, complete with a three year contract. Some (usually of the negative persuasion) may say I “failed” at this dream or “didn’t make it.” No way!! Simply because one’s dreams evolve or reshape does not constitute failure or not making it. In fact, my many years of getting rejected at auditions but booking others helped shape me into the mostly confident young woman I am today. Not only can failure make us more confident in what we do, but it also can make us more confident in how we do it, why we do it, and within ourselves.
Failure Creates Humility
Ever meet that person at the bar (or wherever) who cockily states how he/she landed their perfect lover after the first date, or had no problems booking a part (we’re in L.A. after all) or landing a job? Do these types of people interest you? For me, the road of Hard Knocks brings a lot more to the table, and generally speaking, people who have lived a lot and fallen down even more are as generous as they are humble. Perhaps the stories of instant success can make some want to rush out and start grappling for achievement. But that’s really not how life works (and quite likely, the boastful person has exaggerated his/her path to “#winning”). It’s the people who endure tough times, suffer rejection, yet learn how to get back up and keep plugging away who are confident, but also humble and helpful to others who seek support and advice. I don’t know about you, but that’s the person I strive to be.
Failure Gives Inspiration
People I look to for inspiration are those who crawled a long, hard paths to reach their dreams. They are generous, vulnerable, and self-assured without being cocky. When we fail, we create new opportunities not only for ourselves but for others. All of our hardships can be seeds for creative thought, better ideas, new life paths, but also inspiration for people we come into contact with. Goals don’t have to be huge, and we don’t necessarily have to be famous or # 1 to have achieved success. But we do have to keep going. Let failure be inspiration to your soul and your aspirations. Accept barriers as blocks to cut through or drive around, not permanent blockades.
So fail, fail, and fail again–you’ll be a better person for it.