The power and purpose of failure
The best thing to date that has happened in my life is meeting, pursuing and marrying my beautiful wife Kylie 12 years ago.
But the second best thing by far, have been all the failures in my life.
Thats right, ALL my failures.
As controversial as it sounds, it is the absolute truth and definitely not unique to me but a shared universal opinion.
In this post i’d like to share with you below, about one of my most recent failures and how it has powerfully shaped the last few years of my life.
The purpose of failure is to provide feedback and hopefully inspire lasting change in an induvidual.
The power of failure is a catalyst, as to whether you pick yourself up and move forward towards eventual success or stay defeated never to start again.
The pain of failure is either a defining moment which leads us to our ultimate goals and stunning success or a bitter memory of which is hidden as scar on our soul.
I am ultimately convinced that my failures as a teenager, young man and now married father of three, have been instrumental in shaping my present and success in life, with the only caveat being, that we do not like to share or talk about it very much.
A powerful force
There can been no other more powerful force, that can shake you up, change your perspective and habits and given you a compelling why, than experiencing failure.
The person that you are today is a composite of:
1) The people that you’ve met and influenced you (good and bad),
2) The books that you’ve read
3) The experiences that you’ve have encountered (failure and success)
Failure has been a potent catalyst in my life to seek mentors (people with wisdom and experience) and to read widely (about my struggles, passions and future) as I swam forward through the current of self-doubt and discouragement of failure.
It has led to explosive personal growth and success as I’ve removed many bad habits and negative influences in my life, which have led to several positive downstream effects.
The failure experience thus far
My failure in high school led to an unwavering desire and razor sharp focus to become a doctor despite my poor academic performance and suffering self-esteem.
The inability to balance and replenish my energy, work and life led to two episodes of burnout.
But experiencing these failure has led to an extemely intentional way of living, which has brought forth significant returns of increased wellbeing, happiness and wealth!
None of us start with the intention to fail but so many of our respected leaders past and present, have attributed much of their eventual success to their failures, as it was the essential ingredient in shaping their ideas and resolve.
Like most, I’ve grown up never wanting to be at the bottom of the class, nor undertake any project or pursue a dream with failure as a potential result.
Fear often keeps us on the sidelines, never daring to embark on that business idea that we’ve had, or making a call to a friend to re-establish contact and even making a declaration over your life, because of the ramifications that it may have.
With this in mind, here is a story that I hope will encourage you.
The smallest margin that changed my life
Blood drained from my face as a cold shiver ran down my spine.
Numbness fell over me and my heart has raced.
My hand trembled as I refreshed the screen, my eyes darting across the page, my mind trying to sense of what I was looking at.
“It can’t be!!” I screamed inside my head as I looked at my candidate number and the corresponding result.
Feelings of disappointment, shame and hopelessness rang loudly as disturbing images flashed through my mind.
It had only been a few weeks since I’d started work again after one of the lowest points of my life, but I was staring at the first obstacle in my recovery.
I’d failed the written part of my general practice exam by 0.29%.
One part of me raged and blamed my failure to balance my energy and replenishment on this result and the other was in deep mourning, despairing of the future and the impact this would have on my reputation.
The curse of the big “D”
As it sank in, I was stuck thinking about how unfair it was to be caught out by the smallest of margins and enormity of the task ahead of me. Months of study, time off work and the best summer months “wasted” in my study bunker.
But as I set out again, the single biggest reason behind my failure became penetratingly obvious.
I was hopelessly and endlessly distracted.
As I had previously prepared for my exams, an hour wouldn’t pass without me checking Facebook several times, Instagram another couple, sending a a few Tweets and surfing the internet and pursuing random tangents of thought.
This distraction clouded my mind with other peoples opinions and words, their flashy pictures and completely robbed my mind of clear concentration at the job at hand, passing my exams.
More than that, I started to see so clearly, that my addiction to social media was disrupting and encroaching on all my precious moments and worst of all, it had become an endless waste of time.
My social media divorce
As I neared the end of the year and the countdown began for the re-sit of my exam, I disciplined myself to studying every night but knew I needed to do the unthinkable….. stop using social media.
The thought of not logging unto Facebook and seeing red notifications for me to chase, keeping up with friends across the world and staying in touch with the happenings in my circles seemed so ridiculous and too difficult to comprehend.
But my previous failed exam campaign was the compelling and powerful force that propelled me to seek less distraction.
Like all relationship break-ups, it was painful, lonely and a little messy at first.
But pushing that aside, focused on seeing “pass” next to my name and claiming my fellowship, I didn’t seem to mind the sacrifice.
Peace beyond distraction
The second sitting of the KFP exam was significantly more challenging than the first, but my previous experience and practice over summer, clearly helped me provide solid answers and demonstrate my clinical knowledge.
Peacefully and confidently, I knew I’d done more than enough to ensure a pass.
But what happened next was unexpected.
I’d been so preoccupied with my exam, I didn’t have time to examine the true effects of leaving the endless distraction of social media.
The peace that I was experiencing beyond distraction, gave me control back over my time and of significance to me, the ability to focus and concentrate again.
I was no longer being bothered by the intrusive thoughts of others on social media and my best attention and creativity wasn’t being used to scroll, comment and post anymore but being directed to some of the critical habits that I’d lost along the way, reading, writing and creating.
The creativity explosion
Saturated with clarity and filled with confidence from the momentum of my new found direction, I decided to stop using all social media for a year to see the effect it would have on my life.
The effect was enormous as 2014 was a year of explosive personal growth, which allowed me to increase my productivity and work capacity significantly.
Whilst previously I wouldn’t have been able to concentrate for longer than ten minutes, I developed the ability to be able to work on projects continually for a few hours without being distracted.
My failure to pass the exam had led to the great impetus to eradicate distraction from my life and the effects were greatly compounded.
I didn’t just pass my exam but gained control of my thinking, my actions and thus results.
Success birthed from failure
Below the iceberg of success which everyone marvels at, are the repeated failures, hard work, self relfection and discipline that is often unseen.
As I write today, failing my general practice exam, was the single best defining moment of my medical career thus far.
Exploding from that moment by eradicating distraction (I list these with the upmost of sincerity and with great respect to illustrate my point):
-> I passed my exam on the second sitting and received the benefit of covering the entire syllabus twice, making me a more informed and thorough doctor.
-> TheHealthyGP blog was born on new years eve 2014 as I gained confidence in my writing and wanted to start sharing my work with the world.
I never knew that my words could help people in the way that they have to provide encouragement and cut straight through to the heart.
As I write I feel a deep connection with my maker as I use the gift that he’s given me to touch people.
-> Confident with the managing my time and cutting out distraction, I started studying again in 2015 whilst working full time and received a Diploma in Dermatology
As I disciplined myself, I found freedom.
Freedom to do the things that I truly desired, but couldn’t see through the endless distraction that were occupying my thoughts.
It took one of the worst moments and failures that I have experienced, to bring forth this amazing and much needed change in my life.
Encouragement and challenge
This post certainly hasn’t been written to signify my my great acheivements but rather to graciously show the hold that distraction can have over your life.
But most importantly the it was written to show the power failure can have to transform your life.
Stepping outside your comfort zone, trying new things, experimenting with life are the only ways to grow.
It is a signal for self examination and in the right person at the right time and in the right place it makes ALL the difference in their success for the future.
The power failure is feedback and a catalyst for change.
Live intentionally past your failures.
Enjoy the best health of your life.