How many times have we been told this very thing? School, athletics, work — failure is not an option. You come home with a B, it should have been an A. You place 2nd or 3rd in competition; why didn’t you get 1st place? Why didn’t you land that multimilllion dollar account or sing that player or get that client? Society has conditioned us, branwashed us, to avoid failure, to fear failure, to the point where we go from one extreme to another — either we crush someone’s spirit if they fail, or we reward everyone simply for showing up. either way, we have an unhealthy and distorted relationship with failure. And yet, some of the most brilliant minds endured a TON of failure. Most inventorss failed hundreds of times before they discovered the right answer. Most business people who are sucessful experienced failure. Heck, if we are all being honest, some of our most prolific academic minds failed a test or two. Elijah Cummings (may he rest in power) was told that he wouldn’t make it through college, ans now is considered one of the smartest and staunchest activists and congressmen of our time. So, why do we avoid failure? Or at least try to avoid it? What is the real lesson to be learned here?
The truth us that there is no truth in that statement. Failure is an option, Failure, as someone once said, is proof that you are trying. Failure is NOT the end — it is only the beginning. Failure, my friends, is apart of life and an essential part of the growth process. If you don’t fail, you have nothing to learn. If you have nothing to learn, you don’t grow. And, if you aren’t growing, you are not living. If you are not living — you are dying. FAILURE IS A PART OF LIFE. Instead of hiding from it, we need to learn to embrace the discomfort of failure, to see it as an opportunity instead of a death sentence. Albert Einstein said, “Failure is success in progress.” Richard Branson siad, “If you don’t have failures, you’re not trying hard enough.” They use to tell children the old adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”What is that if not a lesson in failure and resilience?
One of my favorite authors is Brene Brown. Her statement on failure is this: “If you have no tolerance to failure, you will not create anything new.” Failure is a part of the innovative process, a part of the creative proceess, a part of any process, really. Only in those circumstances it’s called trial and error. I despise the day someone decided that children should not be exposed to failure in sports. If no one loses, how sdo they learn sportsmanship or resilience or character? If they don’t lose, how will they learn perserverence and build grit? Life requires stamina of heart and soul to endure failure and keep moving forward. If we shield our children from failure, we cripple them as adults. Failure builds character, but it also fosters grace eand compassion. Failure builds grit, but it also teaches humility. Without failure, we become cold, heartless, selfish, entitled, and arrogant. the human race cannot survive in such a cold and hostile environment. Success after failure produces inspiration.
At the risk of sounding cheesy, I think the lyrics from the theme song to the TV sitcom, “The Facts of Life”:
“You take the good, you take the bad
You take them both and there you have
The facts of life, the facts of life.”
Failure, my friends, is a fact of life. But it doesn’t have to be a bad one. Failure puts you one step closer to success, but only if you choose to learn and not give up. Failure is something you experience; it doesn’t define who you are. Believe me, this is a reminder to me as well, because I am my own worst critic, and I grew up thinking that failure was the worst thing that could happen to me, despite my mother’s best and most earnest efforts.
My mom would always tell me and my brother as we went through school, “I will accept the grade you bring home to me, as long as you tried and did your best. I will take a hard C over an easy A any day.” God love the woman. She is one of the most resilient people I know. And she tried her best to pass it on. I haven’t gotten it all, but I am the strong woman that I am because of her.
Beloved, i want us to understand that failure is a part of the growth process, and to develop a healthy and appropriate relationship with failure. Embrace the discomfort of failure as an opportunity to learn and grow and move forward and go higher. As I am speaking to you, I am speaking to myself. I struggle with failure. I fear failure. But I understand that failure is a stepping stone to growth, greatness, and success.
So let’s change the narrative. You are NOT a failure. You have experienced failure. You have endured failure. You have survived failure. You are learning from failure. You are growing through failure. And you can learn to embrace failure.
As Forever First Lady Michelle Obama said, “Failure is an important part of your growth and developing resilience. Don’t be afraiid to fail.”
YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE.
Failure is an event, not a person. learn from your failures and grow. Don’t embody your mmistakes, and label yourself as a failure. You are human, and we all makees mistakes. What defines a man or woman is how well he or she rises after falling. Failure is ineveitable; giving up is a choice. DON’T GIVE UP.