What is failure really?

It is said that hell truly begins on the day your Creator grants you a clear vision of all that you might have achieved, of all the gifts you wasted and of all you might have done that you did not do.

The world increasingly only celebrates the image of the victorious, the successful, the powerful and the wealthy. Failure is increasingly something to be avoided at all costs. Who proudly posts their daily failures all over social media? It may well be a more honest use of these platforms, however, who wants to face the messiness of a real life with all its ups and downs, its noise and its melody?

So, to avoid the shame associated with failure people live on auto-pilot, keeping it safe and predictable, often faking it, while locking out the magic of new, unpredictable possibilities. The life you see on Insta is seldom real, with robots often making up most of the followers on your favourite celebrities’ social media profiles. True story.

Playing it safe

Unfortunately, living on auto-pilot will never unlock all the potential waiting to be discovered inside of you. Staying safe will never mean living your greatest life. At best, it could offer you a good life, however, you are not on this earth to merely be good; you were born to be great and that means taking some risks. Remember that failure starts in your mind before it manifests in your life. You get to define what failure means to you, how you respond to it and what you choose to do with it.

When failure comes knocking, ask the question, “did I do my best in the moment?” Often what is regarded as failure is simply you not taking action, and action stems from your thoughts and words. Failure is a bunch of letters thrown together. You give it meaning in how you think and speak about it; it lives only in the story you tell.

Your version of events craft your experience, not the events themselves. The illustration below shows how the same event is a story of failure to one and one of success to the other.

Your story defines your experience

A new set of lenses

The way in which you think about yourself on a daily basis is at the very core of your greatest fears. We also know that the material world is simply a reflection of the inner world; often it’s the inner world that needs adjusting when the outer world fails to please.

Does your situation require a new way of looking at it? A new story? What gifts await as you get closer to understanding the situation? What was your contribution? What actions could have resulted in a different outcome?

Often it is unnecessary expectations which create narrow definitions or preconceived ideas of how things should be, taking your attention away from the beauty of what is and the gifts on offer in the present moment.

A courageous choice

In order to elevate your life you need to challenge your concept of yourself, confronting what you previously believed to be true, accepting that although failure can be a bitter pill to swallow, it is defined only in how you choose to respond to it. It takes courage to dance closely with failure, to become intimate with the darkness, looking for the gift waiting to be discovered by the courageous soul with a desire for more.

When courage infuses our choices we make powerful decisions that change lives. So why do we invest so much energy in what other people think? Why do we so often allow society’s loud voices and narrow definitions of success and worthiness to craft and shape our lives, defining our journey, informing our decisions, then abandoning us, isolated with the sadness of an unfulfilled life? This is, after all, our own precious life. Should it not then be moulded by our own courageous decisions?

What will it mean to you?

I say that the only real definition of failure is a life not fully lived, a life filled with regrets, a song left unsung, a story untold, a road not travelled.

Napoleon Hill said that every perceived failure carries within it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.

What do you choose to do? Will you take those risks, living your greatest life, embracing the possibility of failure as your greatest teacher while you dance to the song of your soul?

Or not?

“A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new” – Albert Einstein

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