A Life Without Failure

Too Scared to Try

Many people won’t ’have a go’ simply because they’re scared of failure. And because they won’t try, they won’t learn as they could. They won’t grow. They won’t build strength. Or resilience. And they won’t explore their potential. Neither will they develop new skills, insight or understanding. If only they could recognise the value in some occasional failure. If only they could understood that failure is, in fact, a myth. A self-created reality. An experience we bring to life. A mental construct. Something that doesn’t exist until we say so. A label that we assign to certain events, situations and outcomes in our world.

Like success, failure is whatever we determine it to be. And just like success, failure is about individual standards, expectations, attitudes and thinking.

Two Runners

Kelly completes a 10km (6mi) Fun Run in 50 minutes. Before the race, she had hoped to finish in less than an hour, so 50 minutes is something of a major triumph for her. She is genuinely happy. Kelly’s friend, Joe, runs the same distance and records the exact same time. However, he wanted to cover the distance in 45 minutes or less. Consequently, he is devastated. He describes his experience as a massive failure and as a result, his psychology and his physiology are both a reflection of his belief (the belief that he has failed). He could have labeled his run many things but he chose ‘failure’. He labeled it. He believed it. He lived it. Joe was genuinely miserable.

The Power of Labels

Of course, Joe could have called his result a lesson, a surprise, a minor speed hump, an anomaly or simply, an experience. In reality, his misery was not about the run or the time; it was about him. If the time (50 minutes) was the cause of the misery then everybody who recorded that time would have ‘failed’ also. Clearly, they didn’t. His misery was not about the time he posted but rather, the label he attached to the time. And the power he gave to that label. Like most things in life, the result was meaningless until Joe gave it meaning (failure, devastation, misery).

One result, two very real self-created experiences: misery, joy.

In life, stuff happens and then you and I give those experiences a label. And when we ‘believe’ the label, we create our own personal reality. Good, bad. Hard, easy. Success, failure.

A New Story

But what if we simply chose not to fail? Ever. What if we shifted our paradigm a little to the left? What if we chose to re-frame our picture? To tell ourselves a new story? A better story? A healthier story? What if we removed the word ‘failure’ from our vocabulary and chose to have lessons, opportunities, challenges and experiences instead? Is that possible? What if Joe said “oh well”, shrugged his shoulders and simply let it go – instead of throwing himself into an emotional tailspin? What if failure wasn’t an option for us? What might we try? Do? Create?

And who might we become along the way?

Let’s Consider Babies

When a baby tries to walk but is at the point in their development when they lack the strength, balance and co-ordination to do so, what happens? They fall down. And then they try again. And again. Sometimes they laugh. Or cry. Sometimes, both. And then they keep trying and trying. And laughing and crying. They don’t evaluate or label their experience; they just have it. They haven’t failed; they just haven’t walked yet. Unlike me and you, they haven’t yet learned the possibility of failure, so they happily keep falling down until one day they take a few wobbly steps. And then a few more. And before long, they’re running. All their trying pays off.

They have fallen but not failed.

So, I guess today’s question is: will you fall down and get up or will you fail? 🙂