What if to fail was to succeed? In our societies and in our own minds failure would lose its stigma. Reframing failure would free us of the paralyzing fear that often accompanies new endeavors.
How would the United States and the world change if we saw failure as a vital part of success? “How many times did you fail before you realized your success?” one might ask another. “Oh many tries took place, I was a huge failure.” the other might reply.
Trying out different ideas would be at the heart of our success. To fail would take on new meaning, and would be redefined in a context where it was safe to admit we failed countless times.
Perhaps we would get high-fived by those hearing us recounting our failures and maybe they would say, “Great job on your failures! Wow, you are a fabulous failure! Good for you.”
How would you feel about success if you knew that failure – probably many failures – was part of the game of life? If failure was simply a natural outcome of success – in fact most brilliant inventors were monumental failures along the way.
You wouldn’t be afraid of success. Many of us equate success with failure, and have been taught – indeed brainwashed – to believe failure is not an option or other will look down on us.
Winning at all costs is taught in our ivy league business schools. Incentives to act honorably and ethically are missing entirely, replaced with Enron type “ethics” of winning even at the cost of their own integrity, their honor, and their word.
To fail is, to not get back up when we are knocked down. To succeed is, to get back up again and again until satisfied with the outcome: to find a way through failure, and power through the “no’s”, to get to the “yes’s”.
Now there are many actions to take, and much learning to be done in the area of your interests and innovations. Having faith in yourself and your idea, hope for a better life and world, excitement for your new endeavor, and imagining yourself as your desired outcome, to pull you through the difficult times.
Most inventors of world-changing ideas had a clear vision that was so powerful that it lit the road ahead. Or was it their never take no for an answer that paved their way? Perhaps they had a will of steel, or a strong ego, that refused to allow others to knock them off their ideals? They engaged their imagination, which is an absolute must in grand discoveries.
To try something new is a great thing – to discover the unknown and make it known by all. You must be willing to try something new to see if you have talent, to see if you like it, to see where it will lead. And then to quit when none of the above pan out, moving on to another exciting endeavor.
Have fun exploring the unknown . . . sample life and try out whatever looks like fun to you. None of that is failure, simply exploration. You will find your purpose through your explorations.
Why then are we so afraid of failing? It seems shameful to admit that we failed. Society, our family and friends, all want us to be “somebody”, and they strive to be “somebody” themselves. To fail is to be a “nobody”. Only a few talk favorably about the “nobody’s” of our world. Few say, “Oh, you should meet John James, he is a dishwasher at the café, he is a kind man and a loving husband that helps his neighbors and friends.”
In truth, the “nobody’s” are loathed in America where we pride ourselves in hard work, perseverance, and our possessions. The “nobody’s” do not deserve even a decent living – although they do most of the real work.
What if we were all born “somebody’s”, and the word “nobody” didn’t exist except as in, “No body was found.” or “Nobody knows where John has gone.”? We would live in a gentler world.
We are not failures. When we reframe failure in our minds and in our societies, we will open up the world of imagination where all goodness comes from, and in doing so, our lives and our world will change in ways only our imaginative innovations will uncover.
Reframing failure as exploration, and us as the explorer, just doing what we are led to do, and whatever sparks our desire. No more judgments of “You are a failure!” accompanied with being excluded.
Being a failure and failing are 2 separate animals. Many of us identify failing with being a failure, which skips hand in hand with its sister, disappointment. We do not want to relive our disappointments or be reminded of our failures.
Failure sells in our society, and in most of the world. The fear of not succeeding, the fear of succeeding , the fear of what others will think of us.
Fear of failure has its root in our childhood. Early on we learn how we are expected to act, and to know our place. We are rewarded for succeeding, and punished or worse, ignored, when we don’t.
After 50 years I’ve finally learned that all of my experiences have value, and I now put my failures and my successes in the same frames. If I had fun, then I was a success, and if I didn’t, I usually learned something and was still a success.
What if instead, we had no preconceived ideas of success or of failure, and we knew only of exploration – neither good nor bad, just living free? What if we faced each day with an adventurous spirit, and a strict policy of living in joy in all of our experiences?
If we all lived like that, what would our world look like? I would love to find out . . . I think I will explore that idea.