This can be a really scary word… One that will stress people out and cause major anxiety…
Most people base their failures on everyone else… Only smart people base their failure on their strategy.
What is the definition of failure?
- Lack of success
- The omission of expected or required action
- The action or state of not functioning
As humans we are terrified of failure, along with rejection and the word no. This has been a running topic of conversation amongst friends, acquaintances and clients recently. It is incredibly refreshing that failure and what is considered failure has become an open and accepted topic. Instead of using the word failure, the word lesson would be more appropriate. Without lessons we cannot learn and if we do not learn we cannot grow.
I met my friend Marco last week for a leisurely lunch to have a well overdue catch up. Marco and I have the most satisfying conversations due to our mutually agreeable off kilter perspective of life. As usual we discussed Sci-fi, cycling, had a “what have you read lately” chat, then moved onto a little bit about our personal lives, what’s going on at home and then business.
This day instead of discussing our successes in life and business we discussed our failures… In fact we celebrated them over an Eaton Mess – Sweet, messy and quite the perfect choice given the topic of conversation.
Let me share some thoughts…
The most important aspect when it comes to feeling like a failure in certain areas of our lives is to redefine and reacquaint ourselves with what our personal definition of success is and then remove all of the outside noise, success is not based on others it is based on our personal strategies. Everyone has a definition of success a lot of it to do with what we consider our “calling” in life. For some it is power, control, money and material stuff, others love and relationships. For some it is health and sanity. Others it is about how we bring up our children, knowing they will be good people. I’d like to think that for all of us it is about how we can contribute to our planet and fellow humans. No-ones definition of success is wrong (unless of course it is taking over the world guns a-blazing), but you have to figure out yours and remind yourself every time you feel you are not successful what success means to you and only you. There are three things I’d like to share that we can all think about when we feel like a failure in life, they are quite profound and I find them grounding:
- Wabi Sabi – The acceptance and beauty of imperfections.
- A bulb breaks to grow into a beautiful flower – In order for something to grow into something strong and beautiful it must first of all break.
- Tomorrow is a new day – Get up and get it, again and again and again.
We are only failures if we if we do not embrace our imperfections, if we do not allow ourselves to break and grow and if we do not accept that yesterday was the past and today is a new day.
Who Grew From Their Lessons in Our Lifetime
Many of the people we admire in the public eye have failed numerous times prior to achieving what they believed to be personal success. Here are a few of my favourites from our life time to remind ourselves that in order to discover our calling and to grow… We need to learn a few lessons first.
Jim Carrey – Fellow Canadian was booed off stage right here in Toronto at “Yuk-Yuks” on his first night. He also failed his audition for the 1980 season of “Saturday Night Live”. In 1994 he received a cheque for $10 million dollars for his part in “Dumb and Dumber”. Carrey is now well on the way to becoming a coveted artist.
Rupaul Andre Charles – The famous Drag Queen, actor and businessman did not start out as fabulous as he is, he started out as a used car salesman in Atlanta, before heading off to New York with only a few fashion tips from his Mum and sisters. After battling drug addiction and living in poverty Charles came out with the hit “Super Model”… That was the beginning!
Steve Jobs – Was a college drop out who was removed from his own company “The Macintosh Group” in 1985 when the board sided with the CEO in regards to Jobs over working staff . After many failed products and various companies, many of us can not live with out “Apple”.
Sidney Poitier – When he auditioned for “The American Negro Theatre” in his heavy Jamaican accent, the director told him to consider washing dishes instead of acting. In 1963 Poitier won an Oscar for “Lillies of the Field”. “Guess who’s coming to Dinner” was one of the most provocative mainstream films for its time but my favourite is still “To Sir with Love” based on a true story.
J.K. Rowling – A single Mum of one daughter, living off welfare and struggling to make ends meet. Rowling often wrote fantasy stories as a child, she was able to harness that same energy and imagination in order to write the well loved “Harry Potter” series. Rowling is the first billionaire novelist in history.
Steven Spielburg – Was rejected from the University of South California not once but three times, he also dropped out of college. He attributes his success to overcoming his attitude and laziness. In 1975 he made “Jaws” and the rest is history.
Vera Wang – When you ask a bride who her dream dress is by… Nine out of Ten times the answer is usually Vera Wang. Wang started her label at 40 after being rejected as Editor-in-Chief for Vogue. Her earlier years she had failed to make Olympic Figure skating team. Vera Wang is now on the tip of every bride to be(s) tongue.
Oprah Winfrey – Fired from her local TV station after being told she was “not fit for television” Winfrey relocated to Chicago in 1983 to host a low rated talk show. It ranked higher than “Donahue” in the first three months and had to be renamed “The Oprah Winfrey Show”. Oprah is now one of the largest branded personalities on the planet.
A bonus acknowledgement…
One gentlemen not of our life time pioneered modern science with the notion of “evolution”.
Charles Darwin – An average student gave up his study of medicine to become a parson. Studying nature he found his true calling and began his writings “On the Origins of Species” and opened the scientific discussion of evolution.