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A Very Short Treatise on Failing

Failing in some endeavor doesn’t mean that you are a failure. It simply means that you failed at something. Look at any successful person (and I do mean any successful person) and you will see a long list of failures in their wake. You aren’t a failure. But like all eventually successful people, you need to keep moving forward.

If your identity is so intertwined with some thing that failing in that endeavor means that you are a failure, you have invested too much meaning in it. No one else in the world invests that much meaning in your failed effort that they identify you as a failure. That’s your ego, your hypercritical inner voice, talking to you. Kill the inner critic. And if someone else is brave enough to point their bony, judgmental finger at your failures, know that it is only to keep from having to face their own.

If your ego can’t withstand the pain of failing, you aren’t going to enjoy the process of creating something great. Failing is part of the learning process that allows you to create something better. Everything you do, whether it succeeds or fails, is leading you to the future you. Carry the scars—and the lessons they represent—forward with you. Wear them proudly; they are part of your story.

This doesn’t mean you are supposed to enjoy failing. You’re supposed to hate it, and you’re supposed to try like the devil to avoid it. But failing isn’t supposed to make you quit either. Your failures are to remind you that success is found in learning to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and going at it again. Success is maintaining your passion for what you do despite the failures and setbacks.

The fear of failure kills any chance for doing great and meaningful work. Some people fear failure so much, they never become the best version of themselves. Instead, they live quiet, unsatisfied lives of mediocrity, instead of letting the star inside them burn brightly.

Questions

Does failing make you a failure?

How many successful people that you know without a history of failures?

Is it right to allow yourself to believe that your failures are in any way your identity?

What story do your scars tell? Do they tell the story of hard-gained wisdom being put to good use?

How do you keep from letting your fear of failure keep you from allowing your star to shine brightly?

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