Why Failure is Necessary to Succeed
Experiencing failure can too often seem tragic. Failures can catch you living in the moment, rousing up your emotions and seem diminishing to the point of breaking. However, to be accurate, failure and tragedy are completely two different entities. By definition one is less severe and the contrasts should be noted:
Tragedy: an event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress, such as a serious accident, crime or natural catastrophe.
Failure: lack of success.
There is no question, failures are tough. Yet it’s important to recognize that there are different kinds of failures. Failure to reach your destination on an airline and crashing into the ocean is tragic. Failure to get a second interview for a new position at a company you desire to work for could be heart-breaking, but absolutely not tragic. We are human beings and failure can feel like the end of the world, but like stubbing your toe, it should only be a temporary setback. Obtaining the full value of failing starts within your mind.
Failure should be reconfigured as strenuous experimentation or practice that ends with inconclusively. It’s important to know that when you fail, your initial reaction can be exaggerated by your own emotions, but occasional or even consistent failure shouldn’t ruin your life. By nature, failure actually helps you evolve as a human being. There is a mountain of evidence in history that shows failure has lit the way for incredible advancement. This can be applied in your own office, career hunt, on-the-job skills, and daily approach to life.
Within your own brain, although frustrating in the heat of the moment, you need to realize that failure gives you a choice. You have the ability to diagnose your own setback, obstacle or failure by choosing your own treatment. How you react is the initial starting point for how you can start recognizing the benefits of a lesson. Self-prescribing motivation or allowing yourself to be disenchanted would be the most obvious of contrasting initial reactions. Ignite a fire within yourself or lay down on your living room carpet and feel sorry for yourself. When you fail, you always have a choice.
The necessity of failure is the lesson learned and the knowledge gained. A failure is an act of learning. Imagine if the Wright brothers would have just given up on flight? Boats and ships could still be the number one way for international travel throughout the world. What company in their right mind on earth would give you that much vacation time to take a ship to Europe for a quick getaway? It’s important to let out your emotions when something slows your momentum... that’s being human. But after you’ve cleared yourself with passion while acknowledging your emotional reaction, ask yourself questions about what happened. Go back and learn from the mistakes.
Failure is an everyday lesson in professional sports and other careers. Organizations spend millions of dollars on technology, especially the NFL, to review footage of footwork, speed, agility, and execution of proper offensive and defensive plays. Without failure, sports game-planning wouldn’t even exist.
Failure teaches us how to improvise the unexpected, pivot off the friction, and shuffle our feet around obstacles even if the failure occurs within our own chair while sitting at a desk. An obstacle or a setback is a problem we encounter and failure is the lesson that teaches us how to counter-attack and solve the problem.
Think about mice in a maze. There are those scientists in the cliche’ white coats with clipboards watching them figure it out. The adventurous search for the cube of cheese is trial by error. Many dead ends will cause backtracking which will allow learning the map within their head. Imagine getting chased and trying to survive a maze. There is no training manual for survival. As failure can come upon us unexpectedly, how do you respond? Do you consider yourself a student or a victim?
Thomas Edison learned from failure. He invented the household lightbulb because he screwed up 10,000 times trying to invent the first electric lightbulb. Where was he inside his head during the 8,763 trial? After trying almost 9,000 times to produce a successful bulb he was quoted saying, “Why would I feel like a failure? And why would I ever give up? I now know definitely over 9,000 ways an electric lightbulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp.” Edison didn’t give up, but there’s a threshold for intelligence. If you try turning yourself into a butterfly, and you fail, you might want to rethink your long term goal. You can always learn something you didn’t know before.
Failure enlightens. Failure leads to different discoveries. J.K. Rowling was an aspiring author that was unemployed, divorced and living on welfare. During her down-years, she came up with the idea of Harry Potter. She wrote it, but the story was rejected by more than 10 publishers. Eventually, after using her failures as motivation she became one of the most successful writers with a net worth around $650 million dollars. Discovering your weaknesses first hand is a way you can build yourself up.
Failing is not cool or “tight.” Failure is supposed to take a jab at you and it will never (99% of the time) feel good initially. However, failure is callusing, and it produces resilience. Failure cultivates the necessary hardshell that will protect you in a world that is not always so complimentary or pleasant. Learning from failure and understanding within your mind what it means to fail will weather you for future storms ahead. This is how the strong survive. The strong persistent failed-ones have bounced back and toughened their outer core. Failing will help you appreciate what is important in life. When you do get a victory or you overcome failure, the emotional impact will also be over-exaggerating. You will be excited and your moment, no matter how small or how big will be special. And remember, your victory is the first of many.
Because, the more you fail, the more victories you will grasp due to gaining knowledge and developing self-confidence within yourself.
Recovery from failure diffuses fear within. The mental toughness that failure produces is where you will be less nervous and more engaged to take calculated risks to elevate your career. You will sink your teeth into failure instead of walking by it, avoiding eye contact.
Remember, what’s the worst that can happen if you fail? You are not flying a plane into the ocean. Failure is not a tragedy, failure is living life. It is critical that we experience our darkest hours before our brightest days. To understand how incredible it feels to obtain success or to feel proud over a promotion we must know how dark the other side can feel. Do not compare your failures to others’ success. You are your own story and that story is still writing itself. Failure is essential for any success to have a happy ending.
Jon Hauer is a freelance writer and digital designer originally from Minnesota now based in Del Rey, CA. He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication Studies from the University of St. Thomas and graduated from Pepperdine University in 2015 with a Master’s of Fine Arts Degree in Writing. He has worked in the tourism/hospitality industry for years and writes professionally on a number of topics including travel, business, marketing, tourism, home services, art, sports, entertainment, news, etc.