Success, Failure, and All the Things.

I used to think that failure is something to avoid at all costs.

The fear and perception around what it means to fail are so great for most of us that it holds us back from taking any leaps of faith.

But what is failure, really?

The mainstream connotation of the word failure implies that we have done something terribly wrong and that we are at a grave crossroads. If we fail, we lose life as we know it.

Financially, romantically, among our friends. The list goes on. Referring to something as a failure suggests there was nothing gained in the journey, and that the failure in and of itself has no value.

Hmm… Is this perception of the word actually accurate?

Failure is officially defined as, “a lack of desired success or not meeting the desired outcome.”

Way more mild than what my interpretation of the word means! It doesn’t sound that scary.

When we live in fear of failure, we grant it power over us by being “too scared” to go there. This mindset sets us up for desperation when a “failure” occurs because we are unprepared and emotionally distraught when it hits.

However, when we get intimate with our fears around failure, do the work to define what it means to us, and brainstorm the potential good that can come from failure, we equip ourselves with the tools to perceive a failure as a tool.

If we don’t meet a desired outcome, there is usually a reason why. Therefore, in every failure, there is a lesson to be learned or a purpose to be understood.

Whether it is something we did wrong, a blind spot we had, or a redirection to a new opportunity, a failure is a chance to absorb, realign, and strategize.

By adopting this mindset, we create the space to decipher the lesson and the purpose within the bigger picture when failure hits. We will know how to take what we learned, pivot, and improve.

Thus, a failure is only as bad as we choose for it to be. Further, the magnitude of which we mentally and physically feel a failure in our bodies is only as great as we allow it to be.

By re-defining the word, we choose how we tell our stories to ourselves and others. We can be a victim of life or we can be a student. Or, anything else we want to be!

On the flipside, what is success? What does it mean to be successful?

Many of us default to believing success means “having all the things.” That’s what the mainstream tells us, anyway. Is it possible the mainstream connotation of success is also misguided?

Success is formally defined as, “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.”

Few of us take the time to explicitly identify that aim or purpose, which leaves us on a path to something vague and intangible that never quite feels like enough.

If we haven’t clearly re-defined the meaning of success for ourselves, is there a date when this unclear success will be achieved? And if that date is not met, the entire effort is considered a failure?

In this scenario, if success is a goal we are always shooting for in the distant future, but we’re not quite sure what it is, it’s now more of an indefinite journey than a vague destination (that we never seem to reach).

That just seems like a world in limbo.

When we have a clear definition of success, we can see failure as a clue of how to reach the success we are seeking.

Besides, most of us aspire to some type of success in this life.

My friend, it’s time for you to re-define these words for yourself.
Think of a challenge or obstacle – something you’ve been thinking about quite a bit lately.

Ask yourself:

What does success look like for me?
What does failure look like for me?

If I fail, what is the worst possible outcome?
If I succeed, what is the best possible outcome?

If I fail, what is the best possible outcome?
If I succeed, what is the worst possible outcome?

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