The Roadmap To Victory
“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”—Denis Waitley
You can fail and still end up where you need to be because failure is not permanent, giving up is. Countless articles are sprawled across the internet, advocating the key to success. However, the conversation around learning from our failures is less prominent. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: failure is not as disastrous as people believe it to be. Thomas Edison once said: “Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.” It may seem negative at first. Yet, if we move past the fears, failure is nothing more than a signpost guiding us in the right direction. We mustn’t see failure as a force outside us inhibiting success, but as an integral part of our psyche leaving clues towards success.
How do you feel about this as an idea? Are you willing to put aside your notion of failure and see it though the lens of growth and opportunity? We are not given a road map marking our way through life, so we’re left to make it up as we go along. We ought to be compassionate with ourselves since we don’t have all the answers at our disposal. Think of failure as being blindfolded in a maze and asked to find our way out. To find the exit, we must take the wrong turns to gain insight on the direct passage out. Our failures (taking the wrong turns) become the roadmap to victory (finding the exit). Life functions in the same respect, in so far as the key to success is contained within our mistakes. Some people recover from failures quicker than others, but it is the lessons gained from the experience that is paramount.
Failure sharpens the saw of the human will and endows us with determination. I recall attending a mastermind group for several years where it was repeated that we should fail often and fail fast. The significance is to speed the rate at which we fail and learn from the lessons. You can fail and still end up where you need to be because failures are pivotal moments in your success journey. Whilst it may not appear that way, it is because you’re invested in your life story. For example, a mentor is helpful to guide you through your failures than if you were to go it alone since they can show you that your failures are final. What we consider failure, others see as vital success lessons and therefore we must reframe failure as learning aids through repeated setbacks. Consider it a letting go moment, insofar as since we no longer play with our childhood toys given we have outgrown them, therefore our relationship with failure ought to be the same.
Success is a Destination
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” –Paulo Coelho
Many people don’t succeed because they associate failure with their self-worth and never try again. The point worth highlighting is to change our negative association to failure, so it doesn’t impact our self-worth. Many people equate success with frequent wins and fewer setbacks. The reality is, more defeats lead to success if the individual will learn from the setbacks. For example, if you are a budding musician looking to be signed by a major record label, you can be rejected by nine out of ten but you can still be remarkably successful with the one offer which can change the trajectory of your career. One person might take the nine rejections as a blow to their self-esteem, while the other picks themselves up and continues knowing the right deal will eventually come along. There’s a meme that gets shared on social media depicting what we imagine success to be and its corresponding associations. It highlights why it’s important to develop a new framework around failure, if we wish to succeed. Failure invigorates the human spirit or delivers a crushing blow to a person’s self-worth. Either way, it governs whether the individual has what it takes to find a way through their challenges.
The saying ‘Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth’ applies to failure. For it was the American motivational speaker Jim Rohn who once quipped: “Success leaves clues.” In a similar vein, the late Hungarian mathematician Farkas Bolyai wrote: “When the time is ripe for certain things, they appear at different places, in the manner of violets coming to light in early spring.” Knowing this, reframe your perception of failure as a signpost leading you closer to a prosperous future. As long as you don’t give up, success is a destination you will reach if you are firm in your determination, like a train bound to its tracks. Failure is life’s way of nudging us back on track, to reach our destination when the time is right, as long as we stay on course and never give up.
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