It’s a funny subject failure. We all know we’ve failed at some point in our lives, we’re probably failing in some aspects right now and we will certainly fail at some point in the future. So if failure is a reality of life why do we seem to fear it so much? Why do we agonise over it when it happens or when we feel it might be about to happen?
From my own perspective I know I have failed as a husband, a father, a grandfather, an employee, a company director and there have been numerous times when I have failed myself. What’s more, there is undoubtedly more to come.
But what should I do? Curl up and die? It’s probably fair to say that for me personally the biggest failures in my life have also led to the biggest rewards! Why do I say that? Well put simply when the failures I’ve experienced have been big ones the extent to which I’ve learned has probably been of a comparable size as has the change in me that the particular failure has brought about. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be the man I am today without my failures!
All that said the personal change produced by my failures has been powered by the recognition of the failure concerned, by self honesty, taking responsibility and attempting to make amends to those affected outside of myself. Maybe that’s the real difficult part of experiencing failure; having to take a cold hard look at oneself and the damage one’s actions may have done to others and coming to terms with it.
Another part of the process of failure is creativity and innovation and again maybe the bigger the failure the bigger the potential for creativity and innovation. Personal failure is usually accompanied by the type of self conversation that goes something like this: ‘oh my god how am I going to get myself out of this one?’ or ‘oh my god what on earth do I do now’? Both of these questions born out of perceived necessity are of course mothers of invention. It is back against the wall stuff which inevitably produces results of some kind. What kind of results is another question entirely as this self questioning as well as producing the creation of an honest, all cards on the table kind of response also produces the wonderful list of excuses that will (supposedly) absolve us of any responsibility. It is at this point characters are built or maybe not and the road to change begins.
But what of the upside of failure? What happens when you come through the process and out the other side? Well if you take the all cards on the table honest approach, as well as this new found creativity of thought and the development of new ideas and plans you’ll probably also discover maybe the best thing of all about failing. You will more than likely experience a demonstration of compassion from people you barely knew existed! A demonstration that might even make you emotional and more remorseful than you already were, but which can fill you with a renewed sense of purpose. So although you may lose some old friends, you’ll probably make some new ones and you may even be so fortunate as to just make new ones! Failure is starting to look a bit brighter now don’t you think?
Another consequence of failure is that you may actually feel the love of friends and family instead of taking it for granted. Personal failure can strengthen bonds and develop relationships in a way that success just might not be able to match! I think I might rather to be loved for my failures than admired for my successes. I’m not sure I can feel distant admiration!
The trick with personal failure I suppose is in seeing it coming and stopping to take it on board. Maybe we might all benefit from having a quarterly personal failure audit, where we examine our actions honestly, pick out our failures and go through our own particular process. There may even if you’re lucky, be some reward in it!