To learn from failure can be painful. And It feels like everyone is allergic to pain.
I’ve seen it time and time again: Someone wants to pursue a grandiose plan, then they don’t. They get all worked up with excitement and passion, aggressively pursuing an engaging idea. Yet when it comes time to pull the trigger and react, they suddenly stall and are frozen in fear.
Why is that?
For the life of me, I don’t know.
In this post, I’m going to look at what failure means, and if it’s really all that scary to begin with.
Learn From Failure – It Hurts
I have to admit, I’m terrified of failure. I hate looking dumb, and being wrong, and being judged. And I don’t like being a moron or looking like an idiot. Yet time and time again, I find myself in “failed” situations.
I’ve tried comedy: Fail. I’ve tried financial advising: Fail. And I’ve tried being a camp counselor: Horrible failure plus PTSD against children. Kids are gross.
But here’s the thing. Would I have done those things again, knowing their outcome from the start? Absolutely.
All those situations are interesting. I’ve learned a lot and they’ve defined who I am. Granted, half the time I’ve felt tortured and pulled, yanked and stretched, in ways I couldn’t comprehend. But all these stories and events have molded me and created a desire to learn, and to strive, and to try something new.
Most of all, they have made me impervious to failure.
Again, that’s not to say failure is ever easy, because it’s not. It hurts every time. Failure hurts a lot.
But you know what, coming out the other side, unscathed, isn’t that bad at all.
Learn From Failure – Not So Bad
I heard myself saying the other day, “What’s the worst that can happen, getting fired?”
The idea of getting fired or losing a job, especially in modern day Corporate America, is the plague of death. You may as well kill yourself if you get fired because you are a worthless human being. (Please read that with sarcasm, as none of that is true.)
I work really hard for my employers. Sometimes I sacrifice my own sanity, health, and wellbeing for the sake of the team, and I lay my life on the line. The thought of ever getting let go was a foreign idea to me. I felt untouchable.
Until it happened. And then again. And again.
But you know what? Being let go from a company is not the kiss of death. It’s hardly even a big deal.
What matters is how you respond.
Learn From Failure – Moving On
It’s easy to take failure as a personal attack. To say that you’re wrong, or untalented, or not smart enough. None of that is true. I guarantee you’re interesting and special – you just have to find what you’re looking for.
I’ll grant you this: being fired hurts. But you need to get over it. Take 24 hours, sulk like a baby, then get your big boy pants on and chase after that dream. If you need some tips on finding a job, I’ve talked about it here and here.
Because here’s the thing: It’s paramount to chase after your dreams.
Even more so, you must help people.
Learn From Failure – Let Go
If you’re stuck in a dead-end job dreaming about being a travel blogger, you must take action. What are the alternatives? To sit in your cubicle for the next 30 years? No. You must act now.
Here’s something else: Every decision I’ve pursued has ended badly. Let that sink in for a moment. For whatever reason we decide we’re going to pursue “X” and it’s going to mean instant fame. We’re going to instantly find our meaning in life and will be joyously happy.
That’s not how it works. Everyone is delusional and believing their dreams will equate to riches and happiness.
Everything I’ve tried “just hasn’t worked.” It doesn’t mean that I’ve failed, it means that I refuse to sit in a cubicle and be a corporate cog.
I don’t want to be a cog. I want to break out of the machine.
When entering into new endeavors knowing I’m going to “fail.” I begin new ideas, knowing in the end it’s going to hurt, yet I jump in headfirst and prepare to get whacked. It’s like a voluntary torture.
But it forces you to learn. It forces you to try harder. It forces you out of your comfort zone and into something new.
I wanted to be a fiction writer. For years I wrote in private, perfecting my craft. And you know what? I’m not a fiction writer, not yet anyway. But I learned a lot and it was a good experience. And it led to this blog.
So who knows? Maybe I had to torture myself for 7 years, toiling in a craft, just so I could write this blog, and ultimately help someone.
But I don’t really know. I don’t know who this blog will touch, or why it will even matter. And in the end I’ll probably fail, and it will hurt, but I don’t care. It’ll lead to the next thing and the next.
And I’ll be stronger for it.
Learn From Failure – Action Steps:
- Try something new
- Failure hurts, but is temporary
- Failure is the only way to grow
Are you scared of failure? What’s holding you back? In the grand-scheme of things, which pain is worse, failure or never trying at all?