By all definitions (particularly my own) I’ve been failing at a few things recently. Personal and professional endeavors.
I’ve felt stupid. Embarrassed for trying in the first place. Like my plans aren’t coming together. Frustrated that the journey is wrought with obstacles. I’ve felt like crying, but then bit down hard and held it in. …I’ve felt like a failure.
My friend Heidi sent me an email this week with an article called, 7 Habits That Will Make You Miserable. Little did she know, it was just what I needed. I relate to many of the lessons in that article. Some of them are things I’ve overcome, some are things I continue to struggle with, and some are still a ways off.
“A More Profound Way to Be Successful”
Number six resonated deeply with me. The author says, “Failing does not make you a failure…the only real failure of our lives would be if we never had any. Failure is simply finding a more profound way to be successful, if we’re willing to learn from it and then have the courage to possibly fail again—and possibly more profoundly than before. The biggest risk we can take in our lives is not taking any at all. We can’t let failure be our death sentence, instead of just one more sentence on the page before we turn it to the next.”
Being a writer, I’m especially fond of the comparison to our journey as words on a page. A failure, or a setback, is not the end. The risktaker—writer, filmmaker, actor, painter, musician, dancer, entrepreneur, investor, athlete…—must simply turn the page.
And, adding my own insight to this analogy, I think the most beautiful part is that we are helping to write the story.
Who’s Writing Your Story?
Am I writing my own story? Writing 100% of my story? The answer to that brings God, destiny, the Universe, whathaveyou, all into question. My belief is, no. If I was writing it all myself, I’d make it easy—no failures, no setbacks, no obstacles.
But I know that I influence the outcome of my story with every word I choose to put down. And I also believe the failures, setbacks, and obstacles written by that other contributing force are put there to make the story better.
…To color it with struggle so that the victories are sweeter. To accent it with loss so that I never forget. To underline some parts with despair so that I grow and reflect. These things give me empathy, they make me a stronger person, and they challenge me to be a better artist.
Someone very successful once told me, “If your path is easy, you’re taking the wrong one.” Failure hurts. Failure is scary. Failure is a constant risk, lurking. But, despite it, you have the power to influence the outcome of your story.
No, failure is not the end. You just have to keep turning the page.