I am a failure. Now, that may be slightly exaggerated but I have your attention. By all accounts I have reached some incredibly low points and most certainly moments many would consider a failure. Not convinced? During my time in college, I was removed from my university after only my first semester and subsequently banned from campus until further notice. At 18 years old, I slowly watched everything I worked for slip from my grasp. The preceding events to me leaving school led to dark twists in friendships, a repulsive lack of self-confidence and a future cluttered by my own personal turmoil. As a teenager, I thought I had lost it all. There would be no high paying job, there would be no worldly travel and I was off my rocker if I thought anyone was to ever associate with me again. I had hit the lowest of the low. Fortunately, the people I had firmly entrenched around me gave me the opportunities I needed to prove my worth to not only them, but myself again. I set out on a mission to prove my self-loathing thoughts incorrect. I looked inside and after a period that felt like another lifetime, truly came to realize this is my game and can simply not win by being on the bench. It was along this path I discovered that my failures may not define me, but they sure as hell built me.
As much as the notion of being a success has taken root in our culture, no triumph has gone without its share of “failures.” Now, I latched on some fancy quotations for the word “failures” for a particular reason. The word failure is quite subjective, in the sense that a failure to one person may not necessarily be viewed as such to someone else. I am a firm believer that failures teach you more than any success you will encounter and I have set out to convince you of the same. Regardless of how quick you are to pull the trigger and chalk one up in the loss column, these are the keys to a successful failure:
1. Have a Goal/ End Game in Sight
Having a goal in sight, an objective you want to accomplish through meaningful tasks, is the most important step in any game plan. Whether the goal is where you wish to be in 5 years or just a small piece of the larger puzzle. If you can look at the moment when your progress began to halt or you believe you had truly “failed,” can you say that you had an end game in sight? If so, stop seeing big red letters that read FAIL in your head and learn from this moment. Individuals who just wing a game plan never end up near their goal. They never knew what it was to begin with. Moments of shortcomings and periods of readjustment should be built into the emergency route of your goals blueprint. Having a clear goal in your head keeps you driven and allows you to focus on the minor steps along the way that may have given out due to lack of some lovin’. Provide those minor steps that little bit of love and embody your goal.
2. Understanding the Root Cause
One of the strongest tools we have as a being capable of cognizant thought is controlling how our mind reacts to situations. When you have reached a shortcoming in your plan, it is just that, a shortcoming. There is no changing the fact it is a glitch in what you thought was your flawless plan and now something must be done if you are truly committed. Too much time is wasted becoming angry, agitated and dismissive. Take time to yourself and write down what may have caused your failure, in that instance. Was it a personal flaw, did something occur financially that was not planned for? Maybe it was simply underdeveloped planning but now you know! Sit down, analyze weak points in the path and enable yourself to efficiently allocate resources to that issue.
3. Willingness to Explore
So, you failed and you never want to try something new again. Did you try to break boundaries? Did you try to jump over that line that so few dare to glimpse at? If so, then I call bullshit! There are far too many in the world comfortable with the status quo. Far too many who are willing to sit by, have someone change the world for them and suck up all the glory while their legacies drift off in the dismal wind of time. Doing something out of your comfort zone, larger than you but with a clear path in site is something I would be proud to fail at. Picking myself up and falling time and time again, making those necessary adjustments along the way. You have undoubtedly heard quotes of famous entrepreneurs such as Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates claim the hundreds of times they have failed. Thomas Edison himself claimed to have failed over thousands of times.
These gentleman were born to explore, they learned to fail and they proved you can succeed.
4. Accepting Failure as Inevitable
If you can take on a new venture with the understanding that failure confronts all those with a dream they truly believe in, you are ahead of the game. You are already set for the failure and have put your mind in motion to react to these situations. Instances of downfalls and unexpected turns will be met with swift action instead of periods of doubt. You were aware that everyone falls but the people who change the world fall, army crawl to the next success, use a wicked flip to get to their feet and smash failure in the face. It is like having the ultimate blueprint for battle. I would much rather follow a general who understands their weak points than one who is blind to the fact and believes all corners have been covered. If you have internalized failure as inevitable, you have found a key to failure and are promptly instructed to kick failures ass.
5. You Failed. Try Again. And Again.
The most important key may be our final one. Our previous keys were things you can internalize and be prepared for battle. This last one I wanted to keep basic. At this point, you have failed. The job you wanted, the company you invested in, the woman you have been interested in, did not pan out how you wanted. Get over it. Cold? Of course it is but you need it. Get over the fact that it did not play out how you wanted off the bat and everything was not unicorns and rainbows from the start. As men, we are here to prove our worth and have a hell of a good time doing it. No one has a good time if they believe they are stuck in a rut and doomed to the short end of the stick all of the time. You know what is a good time? Standing up taller than you were before you first fell, working your ass off and changing your future. These moments are not failures if you do not look at them as such. These are moments we are meant to prove our worth.
When I was kicked out of college after one semester, I could have easily dropped the notion of obtaining a degree altogether. That was not my end game. I went in to school knowing that classes were going to be more demanding, I had more time to myself than ever before and no one controlled what I did. I learned the hard way. I never failed. I cannot count the numerous times I thought my world was ending and I thought I lost everything that meant anything to me. I worked to get myself reinstated at the same exact school, grinded day in and day out and made dean’s list the next 5 semesters. I went from being a freshman who could not hang for a full year, to an honors graduate of an accredited business program. Failure is bullshit. I call it motivation.