“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
— Sir Winston Churchill (1874–1965)
My stock in trade is exploring and discovering the secrets of life. This is surely one of them. There is a balance to be achieved in achievement. When the objective is always to succeed and never to fail, yet we will ultimately fail at some things, possibly many things, there stands a dichotomy: an attack on the soul of one who depends on success as an instrument for determining their success as a human being in life.
Success and failure—the mature learn—are not ultimate destinations at all in this life. They are merely way stations, indicators perhaps, of our overall state within the journey we call life. Success and failure prove more valuable as instruments of learning and character reproval.
The Objective of Success
We all love success and we all love to be measured by our successes.
But that is not where we find the means and ends of life. Success is merely encouragement along the way; that we are on the right track, for the moment.
So, the objectives of success are instilling in us knowledge of the things that are working—presently. If we are wise we will learn from our successes in order to replicate them. Yet we need proper sight to do that. We need wisdom with which to gain meaning from success.
If we cannot learn the ‘why’ of our successes, we cannot replicate them, and our successes are reduced to indicators of unharnessed skill, good fortune or luck.
The Objective of Failure
Now that we have dealt with the objective of success, we can focus on the objective within failure. Some people may wonder, “What possible objective could there be in failure?”
It depends on whether we are a Christian or not, or even broadly spiritual.
Those who understand life in its deeper fissures will quickly glean there is as much potential for joy within failure as there is in success. Failure is often the yardstick with which we measure our successes. Without failure there is no impetus to courage. Without failure there is no test of the character. Without failure there truly is no inspiration. Failures give successes an abundance more of meaning.
Our challenge is to fail well. That means we consider our failures maturely; not rebounding in fear, but responding in a resilience that has us learning in humility.
Failure is just as important as success is.
Success and failure are both important, as they are both yardsticks for learning. Persistence is required in meeting both these outcomes. Success and failure are not end points. They are merely indicators along our way. Despite outcomes it’s the courage to continue that counts.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.