Stop Avoiding Failure (365 Days of Spirited Living – DAY 92)
(30 Things To Stop Spending Time On If You Want to Be Successful #1)
“The phoenix must burn to emerge.”
— Janet Fitch
Failure happens. It happens to all of us, even the best of us. The thought of not achieving one’s desired goals is a scary fact of life. It is an idea that we could well do without. But in embracing the opportunity and freedom to succeed in life, the opportunity and freedom to fail is also willfully available. Many people avoid failure to the neglect of the possibility that they could succeed. Sometimes, success is found after many failed attempts at doing something. Take for example Thomas Edison, an American inventor, who said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Other times, success simply depends on how you view failure. You can light another candle after the storm comes and knocks the first one out, or you can sit in darkness. It’s all about your perspective.
We tend to avoid what we fear. Let’s say that people in general don’t like snakes, they, in fact, fear them. If that’s the case, you’re not going to see an exceptionally long line of people lined up at a snake exhibit. The fear of snakes will hold back the people who don’t like snakes from the snake exhibit. Many people fear failure. Because of this fear, we avoid taking risks that could possibly cause us to fail. In the case of failure, when we avoid it, many times, we also avoid the path to success. Remember, that before we attempt to do anything, there is both the possibility to fail and the possibility to succeed. The people who succeed are the ones who often have failed first but have chosen to keep on putting in the effort until they reach the desired goal or obtain the desired result. Failure often precedes success.
There is an ongoing debate about whether or not failure is necessary and if it is more important, less important, or equally as important to success. The truth is, whether we like it or not, we all will fail at some point in life. We’re supposed to fail. It is a necessary part of human existence and is a thin thread that binds us all together. Failure, however, as several people have noted, does not have to be fatal or final. How one responds to failure can be the difference between those who are successful and those who aren’t. If you spend time avoiding failure, you limit your opportunities to succeed.
Did you know that there is a specific type of phobia for fear of failure? It’s called atychiphobia (a-tik-i-phobia) and it is the abnormal, continuous fear of failure. People who suffer from this often live narrow, overly cautious lives. They do not take risks because the intense concern that there is a possibility they will fail stops them cold. This fear paralyzes their efforts to move forward on anything, and so they stop trying. In their minds, failure is final and any effort to achieve will result in a feeling of perceived inadequacy. Because effort is the first step to realizing goals and accomplishments and failure appears to be a more dominant factor than success, the atychiphobic is deprived of a life of purpose and potential.
In some ways, we are all afraid of failure. That fear is reflected in many forms: perfectionism, playing small, worrying about other people’s opinions, among other things. But failure is inevitable and this is precisely the reason why we must stop avoiding it. When we spend less time avoiding failure, we can spend more time putting in the effort that leads to success. Failure is not an excuse to quit, it is a reason to keep on trying.
Not everyone who is at the top today got there because they were automatically successful. Those we remember and whose products we love faced a great deal of failure. They didn’t try to avoid it; they simply pushed through until they reached their goals. R. H. Macy failed at seven businesses before he started the popular Macy’s department store in New York City. Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and failed at his first business before creating the computer giant we know today as Microsoft. Akio Morita sold less than 100 units of a rice cooker that burnt more rice than it cooked before turning Sony into a multi-billion dollar company. We can go on and on with these failure to success stories. The point is that failure is not only the opposite of success. Failure is often the path to success. It is necessary for us to experience failure before we can fully appreciate success.
Professor and New York Times bestselling author, Randy Pausch, said, “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
When we want something badly enough, we will do whatever it takes to get it. This can mean pushing through failure after failure after failure until we ultimately succeed. We must not avoid failure but recognize its importance in our lives. Finding the best way often means passing through the worst way first. The more we live, the more mistakes we will make.
Life sometimes presents easy wins, but when we’re the underdogs (and most of us are), we only pull out victories by past experiences of hanging tough and dealing with the difficult stuff well. Deciding to avoid failure will destroy the possibility of success. Instead of avoiding failure, embrace it. Use it as a source of building character, perseverance, dedication, and as a stepping stone to success in work and every aspect of life.
“We are all failures – at least the best of us are.”
— J.M. Barrie