Failure is defined as the state or condition of not meeting a desired or intended objective, and is usually viewed as the opposite of success. But I disagree. I don’t think failure is the opposite of success. I think failure is something we experience on our way to success.
It is almost impossible to achieve success without failure. A toddler only learns to walk after many failures of falling and we learn to read by being corrected over and over again when we fail to pronounce the words correctly. An athlete only reaches a successful professional status after many failures of not hitting the ball, of not making the basket, and of not being the fastest. It’s the same in our jobs and in our careers. Our failures become a skill set of overcoming disappointment, learning to brush ourselves off and continuing to put one foot in front of another to move on. Our failures teach us what not to do or what to do differently which in turn helps us to succeed.
When asking for advice about life and work, we often ask what we should do, but perhaps we should ask what we should not do. Perhaps learning from the mistakes and failures of those who have gone before us is just as valuable as learning from their successes. Failure is not fun and most of us try to avoid it at all cost. But I am not sure that’s possible. I think the road to success is lined with failure, and failure, an often overlooked mentor, is the function of trying. It builds character, it makes us strong, and it teaches valuable lessons that we can share with others. It’s okay to fail.
Failure is only real failure when we fail to embrace it, learn from it, and share it with those who come after us.