Many of us file the term FAILURE into a state of feeling. I have heard too many people say, “I am a failure”, or “I seem to fail at everything”, or “I am such a failure, I can’t do anything right”, and the sad truth is, they are right. At that moment, their entire being is listening to these thoughts, and thus, whalla, you are a ‘failure’. Because you see, when you are telling yourself these things, in your head or out loud, you will no longer see or recognize all the ‘wins’, you will only see and feel the ‘losses’. You are literally incapable of seeing all the wonderful things happening around you. You. Are. A. Failure.
The REAL truth is that failing is an action. Not a state of being or feeling. Failure is defined as “non-performance of something due, required, or expected” and guess who puts the ‘due, required or expected’ in there? Us. We do. You.
Here is another REAL truth. If we are not failing, we are not doing. The sure fire way to NOT fail, is to do nothing. Failure is a lesson. Failure is action. Failure is success.
You have heard, I am sure, that Thomas Edison failed so many times to get electricity (the light bulb) he almost gave up. Almost. But he kept failing, thus he succeeded. And we all know his famous words, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
What about Stephen King? Without a doubt a best-selling writer, who’s first work was rejected 30 times. He actually threw it away. His wife made him dig it out and keep trying. Now he has over 350 million copies of works sold. He definitely failed. And succeeded.
Ever hear of Milton Hershey? He worked at a local candy factory and decided to go out on his own. And failed. Tried two more times and failed. He should have given up, many told him, but he didn’t. Now many of us eat too many of his delicious Hershey Bars.
All of us have heard of Walt Disney. And maybe even knew that he was fired from a newspaper for not being creative enough. Did you know originally he was told Mickey Mouse was too scary for women and that The Three Little Pigs was rejected because there were only four characters? He failed. Again and again. But now I take my girls to Disneyland and cry each time I go because of the incredible creative experience my girls have and the light and joy on their faces.
If I hadn’t failed, time and time again, I would not be doing what I love today. I tried. Adjusted. Tried again. Adjusted again. Tried again. I failed. Thus I succeeded. I hope to continue to fail.
What to do?
- Do not belittle yourself. You may have failed at something. At many things in fact, but that means you are trying. You are working. You are improving. You are learning. Instead of saying, “I suck, I am such a failure”, say, “I failed at this, but I am so glad to have done it and will do xyz next time”, or “I am so proud of myself for trying, I got this part right, I will do xyz next time”.
- Always, always, tell yourself all the right things you are doing. We listen to our thoughts. They become actions (or inactions). Look around and remind yourself of all the good you are doing. You are accomplishing a lot. Every day.
- STOP calling yourself a failure. That is a title, not an action and failing is an action. You have failed, yes. I have failed, most definitely yes. But if we assign a title to it, if we assign it power over our actions, we cannot move past our lesson (failing) to the next steps (success).
- When feeling at a loss to ‘succeed’ do this one thing: be kind. Show kindness to the next person you come in contact with. A stranger. Your neighbor. A friend. Go out of your way to do something nice. To me, this is the most successful thing we as humans can do. And you never, ever know just what that act of kindness may have done for that person. THAT is success.
- Be proud of failing. You may be the next Thomas Edison.