Oct. 2020 Part IV: You get to Define Failure

Oct. 2020: Failure

Starting September 2020, I will be writing a series about a different monthly theme. The goal is to walk you through a weekly process to help alleviate concerns surrounding the topic of the month. October’s theme is failure, and this blog post explains how it is that you get to define failure.

What have we learned about failure thus far?

1. It’s not always a bad thing; it is simply information (Helpful Hint #1).

2. Failure is a growth indicator; if you’re stagnant, you’ll never fail (Helpful Hint #2).

3. Failure is essential for your life; it means you’re doing things right (Helpful Hint #3).

And what we’re going to learn today…

4. Failure is subjective term, it is a mental construct. Therefore, you get to define failure and means for you! Failure is a matter of opinion.

You Get to Define Failure

How can failure be a matter of opinion, you ask? For example, if you earned a 50% on an exam, you failed the exam. The situation is cut and dry. I am not suggesting you challenge the professor’s grading scale and convince them you in fact did not fail. Rather, let’s take another perspective.

No doubt, you failed the exam. However, that is not the end of the story. Perhaps failing the exam led you to have to retake the course. Maybe retaking the course led you to work smarter, learn from your mistakes, understand the professor, or create new friends you otherwise would not have. Is it possible to reap positive outcomes from failing an exam that led you to retake a course? The answer is yes, absolutely.

I am not stating it is easy to accept the idea that you failed an exam. What I am saying is that it happened for a reason. You do not know the reason at the time. In fact, you may never know the reason for that failure. In the big scheme of life, that failed exam could have been the best thing that happened to you.

In this example, failing the exam put you in a position to produce great outcomes. Therefore, was it truly a failure? You get to define failure!

Go Try Something and Fail

Failure, contrary to what we’ve been taught growing up, is not always bad. You don’t have to freak out. And there is much to be learned in life through the act of trying and failing.

Societies would not evolve without failure. Our human brains would not evolve without failure. Our wonderful inventions would never exist without failure.

Your life, my life, all lives are a series of failures. It is how we learn and progress. It is the only way to keep growing into better, smarter versions of yourself. So, go out there and fail. And don’t feel bad.

Helpful Hint #4 You get to define what failure means for you.

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