One of the greatest quotes I recently heard really put the idea of failure into perspective.
“Failure is an opportunity to intelligently move and begin again.”
What if you never failed? As if that were even possible. But what if you never failed after crossing a hurdle or you possibly never had to cross a hurdle at all? How much smarter would you be?
How much more could you share with the world on how to overcome challenges? If you’d never failed it is true that you would have achieved some basis of knowledge. You could tell others step by step how to go from point A to point Z. But imagine how much more of an impact your message and advice could be if you could not only share that straight line direction, but also the direction that most encounter, the squiggly line direction. You know, the direction that is full of pitfalls, resets, and more – anything but smooth-sailing? The majority of people in life never travel from point A to point Z without having to visit point A-I or F-II or T-III, etc. Sometimes, they travel from point A and get stuck. Others may travel from point A and somehow circle around to point C before they ever make it to point B, if ever. Life has no road map. The roads each of us travel require us to sometimes stop, reflect, and then start again. Those stops or pauses become what some view as our failures.
Put into another perspective, what if those failures were actually just opportunities for us to intelligently begin our paths again. Think about it. Every time you had to start over again, be it a new job, a challenging project, an old relationship, you began again with so much more insight than before. In short, you were much more wise when you began again. If you put yourself in a place where you were reflective of how you approached the situation previously, or diagnosed some of the internal or external factors that led to the lack of success, you gained invaluable wisdom. It’s the type of wisdom that only comes from traveling to point C before point B or simply riding around in circles.
Transparently, I can recall plenty of times where I may have been hard on myself about my perceived failures. Here are some examples. I should’ve worked harder in school when I first attended undergraduate, maybe I would’ve finished in four years instead of six. I should’ve been smarter than to hang out with ‘those’ group of friends once upon a time, maybe I wouldn’t have encountered some of the dark spaces in my life. I should’ve started saving money when I first got out of high school, maybe I’d have a greater financial safety net that I do now. All of those ‘maybes’ were things I beat myself up about not initially realizing the lessons and opportunities that came out of each of those ‘unfulfilled’ moments. What I should have been focusing on was the fact that when I did get focused about school, I knew what to do, finished and then went on to earn my masters. When I figured out what healthy friendships/associations meant, I intentionally changed my social circles. Or after running into many financial ruts, I learned what I was doing wrong and now I know what it is to save and be prepared for that rainy day. All of these moments became my intellectual opportunities to move again. I wouldn’t have gained the intellect or the wisdom about each until I experienced them myself. Of course, I may have heard or been told what I should’ve been doing, but to do is often a better lesson than to hear.
The point of the quote isn’t for us to seek out failure, but to intentionally embrace it if, and whenever you’re facing it. The failures won’t dissipate from our lives, but we can better handle them knowing that we’re more equipped than before.