Friday, November 13, 2009

What’s Wrong with Failure?

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing that you will make one.”

—Elbert Hubbard.

I know of a young person right now who’s dealing with repetitive failure in one area of their life. This person has endured humiliation upon humiliation and now doesn’t even expect to succeed; yet still they try their best. I’ve suggested to them that with each failure lays another opportunity to learn—and that this is a good thing and not a bad thing.

Failure (and our response to it) tells us a great deal about ourselves and our world—our present place and present predicament. It tells us how we cope and if we’ll cope, and all sorts of other things about coping—surviving and thriving.

Failure tells us how we approach learning—a fundamental life skill. Learning is about a right approach to wisdom, at first, and then at second, to failure—the easy and hard ways of learning. It’s all learning (without partiality) in the final analysis. It’s only the varying degrees of pain involved which separates the easy and harder ways of learning.

Learning is how we appropriately deal with inevitable failure.

And what about the cost? Is it really that bearable—do we really want to ‘go there?’ It doesn’t take us too long before we start to realise the obvious... as mentioned, it’s unavoidable.

Failure is as inevitable to life as is getting an itch. All of us must scratch the itch, just like all of us must deal with failure. We might as well embrace them and get on with it.

Fear of Failure is a Fear of Learning

A fear of failure can only really be—at its root—a fear (or an avoidance) of learning; of humility; of the pain involved in re-work at any number of levels. Work, especially emotional work, is enough to put many off. But, it’s only work. We’re here anyway so why not work to improve things?

It therefore doesn’t make sense to be afraid of learning; but many are, or they can’t be bothered putting in the effort.

Failure – the Way Back to the Right Path

Failure takes us back to the start of the right path. We’re not simply dumped there. We get to start from scratch from a real, discernible place, a good place of beginning again—a place of bearing; a datum point.

It’s not just a good place, but it’s a safe one too. With the benefit of the experience where we failed, we take a slightly different course. In this, failure is simply another opportunity.

There’s nothing wrong with failure, and the beauty of this thought is, when we can approach failure without fear, nothing in life has the ability to defeat us instantaneously.

The truth is therefore welcome, and peace comes as a direct result.

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

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