Failure is not an option... because it doesn't exist.
Posted on June 24 2014
Query: I'm looking for people who succeeded in a dramatic way, failed in their next endeavor, then succeeded again. I'm especially interested in people who succeeded nationally, but will also look at local and regional stories.
Requirements: Be willing to talk about how you reacted when a new project, new career, or new goal didn't work out, and what you changed to become successful again. The more details you can give me about your story, the better. No more than 300 words, please.
I got this media inquiry. I wanted to tell a good story for this article. But I couldn't do it.
I really tried to think of failures. I tried to think of times when I got to a corner and looked around and had to admit that I just didn't have what it took to succeed.
This is, for many people, a really easy exercise. For me, it was impossible.
Were there times when I didn't like the results I was getting from my actions? Of course! Every single day, I hit my head against some wall and think, "Welp, THAT isn't working." But is that failure? No, it just means I have to find a different tactical approach to that problem, or give up on that problem if it isn't worth the new tactical approach.
Is giving up on that problem failure? I mean, I guess you could look at it that way. For example, I wrote Martha Beck requesting an interview for a book I'm writing. I received this back:
Hi Danielle,Thank you so much for your email and for reaching out. Due to the number of requests received and Martha's full schedule while working on a new book deadline I need to politely and humbly decline on her behalf.
We wish you all the best and much success.Yours, [name left out for privacy]
A totally reasonable and gentle email from a member of Ms. Beck's staff, I was happy to hear that the reason was "the number of requests" and "Martha's full schedule ... book deadline." This means that the issue is time. That's fine! I have time!
Many people would see this as a failure to get the interview and move on, but this isn't a failure, this is just information about where I am in the process of getting an interview. I assumed I'd be declined, so this is actually better than just being declined! I have information about the reason for being declined.
But let's say that I get an interview with someone else on par with Martha... I might decide to abandon the process of getting the interview with Martha. This still doesn't mean I failed, it just means the plan changed.
It's about the context you put around the events in your life.
If you decide the story you want to tell yourself is about failure, then you'll fail again and again.
If you decide the story you want to tell yourself is about how amazing you are at learning things, then you'll succeed every time.
Didn't get the job you were hoping for? Wow, that's disappointing. But now you can find out what skills you need to build on for the next job interview! You didn't fail getting the job, you just didn't have the skills they needed, and now you know where you need to build out your experience.
Got fired because you spend too much time on Le Social Medias? Maybe you should get a job working on Le Social Medias, since that's obviously a passion! You didn't fail at that job, you just revealed more about your interests, and they definitely weren't that job.
Relationship ended with the guy just not returning your calls or texts? There's really no way of knowing what the truth around that situation is. If he's out of contact, you'll never know. But one thing is for sure: he isn't very good at communicating, and that probably isn't a strong foundation for a relationship anyways. Good to know that about him. If you want to take it one step further, if this happens more than once or twice, maybe guys are intimidated and have a hard time talking to you... be more gentle. Or maybe you like guys that don't communicate well... that's more information to build on. But you didn't fail at that relationship.
People may see this as delusional or looking at the world through rose-colored glasses. Excuse the language, but fuck those people. Seeing everything that doesn't go the way I want as a failure is a totally unproductive world view. And it's false. So people who decide to see things this way can get the hell out of my way and be miserable somewhere else.
For me, I'm sticking with reality. And reality is that there's no failure, because failure doesn't exist.