Dedicated to all those brave souls that have failed in life.
And dared to get back up again.
We have so many hang-ups around the word "fail". Even the letter "F" in red, circled, induces mild anxiety and elevates our heart rate. Over the years, we've learned to associate failing with something terrible. Something that is to be avoided at all costs. And if it can't be avoided, then avoid talking about it or even thinking about it. Sweep it all under a rug where you don't see it or feel it.
Our conditioning against failure started when we were very young. When we failed at school, our parents were called in. If they weren't we did everything to make sure they don't see our report cards. This continued throughout college as well. Risks we took as we grew older and the stakes of failure became higher.
It is no surprise then that when we conduct interviews and ask about a time that a candidate failed, we get terrible answers. If you have any experience with this question, you know the objective is not to humiliate anyone or make anyone look unfit for the role. The objective is simple. You are able to accept your mistakes and learn from them. However, every time we try to fill an open position, we often hear the answer, "I have never failed". People are afraid to admit to their prospective employers that they have made a mistake in the past or they failed at something. The whole premise of asking this question is to see if candidates can accept their mistakes and state what they learned from them.
But this does not just apply to a job search or to employment. In general, we are so afraid to be judged for our mistakes and failings that we keep them buried deep inside us. So much so that at times, we are not even able to admit them to ourselves, let alone anyone else.
When we don't admit to mistakes and face them head-on, we tend to make an even bigger mistake - we fail to learn from them. When we don't learn from our mistakes, we tend to overlook the same signs when we are going down that path again in the future. And guess what? We make the exact same mistake again. Or, we just shut ourselves off from the opportunity because we are still holding the emotional trauma we experienced the first time around.
In both cases, we are not helping our chances. Life is trying to put us on a path and teach us something. And we are plain ignoring it. So guess what life does? Puts us in the same situation all over again till we learn the lesson we are meant to. So do yourself a favor. Confront those emotions that you have buried deep, or swept under the rug. Because the moment you do that something incredible will happen.
You will be free.
You will feel lighter. You will also have the wisdom you were supposed to reap from them. You will also be more objective about the decisions you will have to make in the future. And most of all, it will give you the courage to get back up again. This is what Nelson Mandela meant when he talked about the greatest glory. It lies in not "never making mistakes" but rather in "getting up again after making them".
Because the reality is, we all make mistakes. We all fall sometimes. If we aren't then either we are not living our life with zest and purpose or we are just not capable to accept that we failed at something. We aren't doing justice to the time we've been given.
Failing is the stepping stone of growth. If you don't fail, there are no opportunities to improve or change things. There are no learning lessons that will skyrocket us to another level of success in any area of our lives.
So if you've failed, and you are still waddling in your pain, then it's time you stop licking your wounds. It's time to get back up and learn from it. It's time to start all over again. This is not the end.