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On Failure and Its Relationship to Success

Anybody who has ever spent time scribbling on a pad, or typing at a keyboard in a vain attempt to convey some idea is likely fully aware that what he or she is saying has been said before. It’s even possible that those saying what he or she is saying in his or her current work have been said better than he or she can manage. Even so, some of us continue to litter the world with our statements, hoping that:

  1. We can somehow “bolster” that which has already been said
  2. We are hopeful that our presentation is at least one coming from a “road less traveled” making it so we say things in ways not commonly having been seen.

There’s one other possibility, that being that our audience may not have seen the thing we’re saying before despite its (possibly even ubiquitous) existence.

But this is not the “primary subject of” this piece. It is rather a “sideline” I felt it reasonable to include to make it clear that what I’m saying is likely not one iota of it, new. So if you think you’ve seen the following before, it’s probably because you have, though the form may have been slightly different.

The meat of this article is the discussion of the relationship of failure to success, and I suppose to some lesser degree, why it’s important to recognize the nature of that relationship.

To start out in the most basic of places, when you were but a baby, not long after having spent the majority of your days lying on your back and looking up at the world (when not sleeping soundly), you—if you are at all like the average human being—began one of your most epic sets of failures. That may sound bad, but in reality, it was a pretty important time for you.

You see, all of that failure likely culminated in your ability to walk. I don’t know just how many times the average child tries to walk before succeeding, but based on my experiences with my own children, I would imagine they do so for some reasonably substantial portion of their very young lives.

The important consideration here, is that trying to walk generally results and a number of failures. Along the way, it is hoped those failures become less prominent (even though they likely continue to occur well past the time where the child learns to walk).

For those of you that never learned to walk (were paralyzed or had some other factor that kept you from doing so), not to worry, you too can very likely claim such events in your existence, just different ones.

Whether the thing you most or best remember failing at is reading, speaking, learning basic or advanced mathematics, or catching or kicking a baseball or football (or some other form of ball) is beside the point. The point is, you failed at something. And the reality is, the more successful you are, the more you failed.

Yet again, if I have failed to mention your most notable failure (which hopefully ultimately became a “success story”), rest assured, that was not my intent. My intent was to point out that we all fail.

You could say I have a “secondary agenda” in that I want to point out that where failure doesn’t always result in success (either at all, or to the degree we would have liked), it does so far more often than we like to credit it for. Indeed, out of all of the successes you experience in life, I would venture to say a full ninety percent of them did not occur on your first, nor even a large number of early tries.

Further, I would expect that the average person values the results of many failures culminating in success far more on average, than things that “came relatively easily.”

Don’t take me wrongly, I’m not sitting here saying, “You should like failure more than success.” On the other hand, you can take it for granted that what I am saying is, “In many cases, in order to achieve or attain success, you must first be prepared to fail.”

Sometimes the failure you experience will not be noteworthy. At other times though, you will have to fail big in order to ultimately be successful at something. And at still other times, you will not accomplish the thing you’re “trying for” even after much failure.

That can end up as nothing “more than” a learning experience, something as serious as long term debilitation, or something that produces other desired or undesired results.

But the point of all having been said up to now is very significant to people, and something that at the very least, I know I tend to forget far too much of the time. One of the (very important) potential outcomes of trying and failing is ultimate success.

True, it is only one possibility, but when you think about it, you have likely succeeded at a great deal more than you account after having failed.

Part of the point that needs made here is, if you have something in mind that at present you are unable to successfully do, if it’s important and worthwhile, keep trying. Obviously, there are limitations to everything like it or not.

If you tell me you want to jump from the surface of the Earth and land on the surface of the Moon unaided by any external technology, you need to know your desire is likely never going to come to fruition. Even with this being the case though, never forget that trying and failing is far more often than not a precursor to success. And while you’re at it, don’t forget that there are a good many things at which you all but must fail before you succeed.

Failure can be hard, flunking out of some class or even out of some general course of study (for example, third grade) can seem life-ending. You need to understand though, that as a rule, your failure is not as catastrophic as you might believe when living through it. That doesn’t make it feel better, nor often does it make success any easier, but in the end, if you can get there, you’ll likely look back on even your failure with some measure of fondness.

So to sum this up, remember we all fail. In the end though, the question is, “How do you deal with that? Do you continue to fail until you finally succeed (or learn the thing you’re trying to accomplish is not as important as you thought, or perhaps you’re truly unlikely to succeed at it), or do you give up without even really a fight?”

As I said at the outset, you’ve probably heard all of this before, and you may have heard it presented in much the same way. Nonetheless, it bears repeating often.

Okay, we return you to your day already in progress. As usual, thanks for reading, and I hope your day is a good one.

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