I have a love/hate relationship with failure.
Failure, for me, is the ultimate creator of drama in my life. I have found that taking risks creates the natural ups and downs that anybody would naturally love to see in a television show, that I now get to live- and in the process, also breeds a lot of fails.
When I fail, it is the worst. I feel down upon myself, and if I have my way- I’ll usually be found drinking gin while listening to “oooohh child, things are going to get easier”. While I love wading in my own little black raincloud lake, it’s figuring out how to get out of the current jam and succeed that is actually even more entertaining.
At any rate, I’ve enjoyed failing enough to attempt to understand the phenomenon in humans. Basically (and watch as all social scientists kill me as I proceed to paraphrase) - there are two ways to go when you, as a vulnerable human fail.
1. Attribute the failure to yourself
2. Attribute the failure to some other thing in the universe
So now guess what camp the most successful, most resilient people fall in? I feel like I’m pandering, but it’s obviously the first one.
Now I know what you’re all saying — that you’ve probably seen me or somebody like me blame a failure on something other than myself (and to point: let he who has not sinned cast the first stone) — or you’re probably thinking that there are so many variables in whatever it is that you’re currently failing in, that it cannot be you.
Here’s the thing. If you can just teach a child to credit his or her successes and failures to themselves it breeds more intrinsic motivation towards whatever they’re doing and also shows that it really is an effort based game out there. If they fail, they learn to try again, and hopefully they try harder. If you choose to blame your failures on anybody but you, your motivation is lower to try again- and where would the drive be fueled from when you truly believe that you have no control?
Even if others really are to blame in the eyes of an objective observer- for a failure, the last thing anybody should do is mess their or anybody else’s motivation - that is the drive one needs in order to persist. If the world is crumbling around you - all you can do is believe that YOU have it in you to build it up. Otherwise you’ll stand in ruins.
Okay, let’s get vulnerable here for a minute. I fail all the time. I’ve had so many pitches that people have said “no” to, I’ve made some ridiculous errors in my career, and I’m sure people have wondered about my general level of ability.
BUT - It is is usually while sinking in a sea of failure time that I’ve found out that my perseverance - the ability to withstand multiple failures and still show your face - has inspired someone else.
My goal is to learn how to wear failure a lot better. The thing is, the more failure you endure, the sweeter the success is in the end when it happens. So next time you get cast aside, told “no”, or have your ideas greeted with disappointment- smile and remind yourself that you’re one step closer to succeeding- all while replenishing your personal supply of perseverance in the process. Then invite yourself over to my place for some gin and “oooohhh child, things are going to get easier.”