Who loves to fail? I do!
That’s right, you read that correctly. I know it might be hard to believe, but it’s true. Failure is painful, humbling and exposes you as a total loser to everyone you’ve ever known. Yes sir, I love it! I am proud to fail, I am delighted when it happens, and I can’t wait to turn around and fail again!
I am also, as you may have deduced by this juncture, quite full of crap.
Because I hate to fail. We all do. And it’s no wonder. Whether it is a job or a business or a sales opportunity, failing sucks. It is embarrassing and horrible.
And failing goes and makes matters even worse by forcing us to do two things no normal person would ever willingly do on their own: Confront our mistakes, and then learn from them.
Because, let’s be honest, we learn nothing from our victories. Heck, we usually just accept them without a second thought. Blithely moving forward, self-assured in our indubitable brilliance and invincibility.
But you stick any of us with a failure and we’ll screech right to a halt. We’ll stare at the results, dumbfounded for a moment, before launching into a frenzied analysis of what could have led to such madness. We’ll triple review every detail to the point of exhaustion. Then we’ll triple review them again. How could this have happened? How could we have, you know, not succeeded?
I still can’t even say it.
But when I look back at past defeats, I must admit, albeit through gritted teeth, that I have actually learned to “love” failing.
Failing forces us to determine exactly what went wrong and why
This is never fun, of course. If you’re ambitious, though, I’ll bet you do this all the time. But it doesn’t have to be an exercise in beating yourself up. You may even discover that the final outcome wasn’t your fault after all. That you would have failed no matter what you might have done.
Failing forces us to make important life decisions
Sometimes your analysis reveals that you failed because, well, you just didn’t want it enough. Or that you were unwilling to make the sacrifices required—sacrifices others were more than happy to make. If you weren’t willing, then perhaps the universe was just telling you that this was not your true calling. And you may find you are oddly OK with that.
Success demands a forfeit of short-term comfort and satisfaction. Which means that the long-term outcome better be worth all that sacrifice. Failure brings clarity. And you should change your path if it is not the right one. The longer you stay on it, the longer it will take to find your true destiny.
Failing forces us to improve
On the flip side, instead of breaking our will, an embarrassing setback can harden it into titanium and give us the determination to do whatever it takes to achieve our final objective.
Failures in such cases are usually due more to a lack of skill level than to a lack of commitment. It can take a significant amount of time to master the proficiencies we need to succeed. But this is where the pain of a loss can become your friend.
All on its own—and free of charge, I might add—your residual pain is always more than happy to serve as your personal butt-kicker as you work to improve. It relentlessly reminds you about past humiliations until you acquire the expertise you need to set them right. Refusing to let you quit on yourself—or your dreams—until you finally savor that sweet taste of victory.
Failing helps us take more risks
Wait, what? It’s a bit crazy, I know, but stay with me here. In my experience, if you are about to start something new knowing you’ll eventually either come out on top, or become better at what you do from the experience, then it will reduce your reluctance to proceed, which will encourage you to take more—and even greater—risks in the future. In addition, I’ve found that fighting through initial failures inevitably makes us more appreciative of our ultimate victory.
Michael Jordan once said, “I have failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
I believe that our success ultimately hinges on how well we overcome the setbacks that come our way. We’ve all heard “adversity builds character,” but I don’t believe that. Adversity doesn’t build character. It reveals it.
And it will reveal yours. Which is why I invite you to embrace the value that failure can bring. Maybe one day you’ll join me as I smile through the pain and declare:
I love to fail.