Forget Failure. Find Feedback
We all have had the experience of wanting something really bad haven’t we? When I was in the 7th or 8th grade, I remember the release of the Jordan 13. They were and still are among my top 3 favorite sneakers, and as a fanatic, I really coveted a pair. Even back then, the release of a shoe like that usually creates lines around buildings and packs malls so if you aren’t there to get them when the store opens, you can forget it. It’s a little like the iPhone releases or any other high demand-low supply product that comes out on a specific date that everyone knows about. They had the nerve to release on a school day so it was a foregone conclusion that my mother was not going to take off work nor would I be able to skip school to grab a pair, I never even asked. Visiting the shoe store at my convenience would have been about the same as going to the gas station with Disney Dollars, expecting to walk out with a soda. I remember kids coming to school at lunch time with those Jordan 13s on their feet and my mind was blown… Someone, somewhere, somehow, was making it to the shoe store to buy those shoes for and with their children! I couldn’t believe it, but it taught me a valuable lesson. Life really is what you make it, if you want something bad enough, it’s out there for you.
Life is about experiences, therefore, so is success. It is a small thing to imagine owning a pair of Jordan’s as a successful experience, but as a 12 year old kid, that’s what I was on. Many in my generation and younger can relate. Today, success has much higher stakes. We put a lot of effort into the things we want, and the events we want to occur. The process of setting goals usually puts one or maybe two outcomes out there as successful events; anything else or less is considered a failure. If you want a promotion and you work hard but do not get it, you failed. If you play a sport and train hard to compete but did not win the game or contest, you failed. If you put your all into a relationship and it still falls apart or doesn’t go where you want in the timeframe you expected, you failed. How many times did you stop to think about the way you set up your goals and planned your mission? Remember, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail, so planning is half the battle but how did you do your planning? Did you set your options based on absolutes that are polar opposites of themselves when they really are not? When you worked for that promotion but did not get it, did you not improve the quality of your work and become more efficient? When you trained hard to compete and set your eyes on the prize, did you not become better, faster, and stronger? Didn’t you learn what to do better or what to not do at all in this relationship that ended which may have opened the door for a newer and improved one? These are questions that many do not consider in the moment of apparent defeat. However, we set up those dichotomies and when we do, we are forced to think in terms of success going one direction, and failure going in the opposite. What would happen if we saw our life’s events as going in the same direction, whether we experience the success we planned for or not?
The problem is not the absence of success, but the presence of failure. When we work hard, put in the right effort, and push toward the direction of our choosing, we are indeed progressing. Why call the fruit of this labor a failure? What is really happening is feedback. Whenever you try and do not succeed, what you really witness is feedback. This feedback is what gives you the information to form a proper response. The thing about feedback is that you have to listen for it. That’s the difference between someone who sees not getting a promotion as a reason to push harder so they can do more than just ask but demand it the next time around and someone who gets deflated by the thought that they are unworthy or incompetent. The concept of listening to and for feedback opens doors; the idea that you failed closes them all.
There is no real positive emotion or thought in the sense of failure, it’s more of a stopping point. If you did not experience success, it is your job to continue moving forward. Find the feedback in your situation, work hard and think deeply on your areas of improvement and consider the options from the “outside looking in” with a bigger picture in mind. When you do your best, there is nothing else to consider, but as long as you continue to live, your best improves. Ask any athlete if their best time or feat did not continue to evolve over time. What great people never do is give up. They see all experiences as going in the same direction so it psychologicall uproots the idea of failure and that there can be any opposite to their success.
There is no opposite to success, just opposite mindsets. Opposing thoughts, which is really erroneous if you ask me. It’s all about how bad you want it. If you really set your mind on the success that you desire, the only difference between the “now you” and the “more successful you” is time. In the universe where things just are, there really is no time to even consider. Your desire to be successful is the expression of the success that is already inside you. It is up to you how long it takes you to realize that you are indeed a success. Just like it’s impossible to tell the exact point when water goes from cold to hot, your success is a feeling that’s yours to determine. Just go for it, forget about anything other than your success, let it not exist in your mind. Until you reach that point, see everything else for what it really is. Feedback.