Lack of success. That is what the definition of failure is. What the definition doesn’t tell you is how many attempts at something equates to a lack of success. The thing is, so many of us equate one attempt to being either a success or a failure. What specifically are we attempting? Anything. Everything.
There are so many of us who fear failure. We fear not being successful. We fear the outcome should the intended outcome not come to pass. But why do we fear failure? I believe there are two reasons.
The first reason I believe we fear failure is because our society only celebrates and recognizes success. It doesn’t matter what it is, but before social media, the only thing you typically heard about was the success that made millions or billions. And now that we have social media ingrained in every part of our life? Now we hear about every single thing that our society deems as unsuccessful in a judgmental or ridiculing way OR we hear about the success. Take for instance any model or musician. You don’t hear about those people until they’ve made it big and have these big contracts. We don’t hear about their first recorded song or their first paid photoshoot. We only hear about them after years of hard work and multiple failures.
The second reason stems from our family of origin. We may have some similarities in how we were raised, but our parents are all unique and the specific rules they put into place or behaviors they showed are not exactly identical to anybody else. Did your parents berate you anytime that you achieved any grade less than an A+? Did your parents ground you for being late from your friend’s house by one minute? Did you witness how your parents lived and see the rest of the world as something drastically better and the only way to not end up like your parents was to not fail?
Regardless of how we were taught to fear failure, it is a common theme in most of our lives. I have spent 99 percent of my life fearing failure. It takes me more effort than I like to remind myself that failure is not the end of the world. With my normal black and white thinking, it’s either you succeed perfectly or you fail horrendously. There is no in-between.
Except there is. There is a beautifully messy in-between. There is a beautifully imperfect in-between. That in-between is what we need to use to power us to continued failures to finally reach success. In Wolfpack, Abby Wambach said, “Failure is something to be powered by.” I want to get to a point that I pursue failure. I want to keep failing until I succeed.
This is why I chose the name Failing Imperfectly. I want to keep failing and I want to accept imperfection. When I chose this name, I wasn’t perfect at accepting failure as a normal part of my life. In fact, I was so far from it that I chose the name as a daily reminder to myself that failing is okay, that being imperfect is okay. They aren’t just okay, they are the way I want to live my life. In the years since I chose the name, I’ve been closer to accepting imperfection and failure and I’ve been right back where I started. That in itself is part of me accepting failure. Life isn’t perfect, growing isn’t perfect. There will always be some kind of failure in my life and that is simply part of living life.
Another thing about failure that I am hoping to finally absorb completely someday: failure is not a be all end all kind of occurrence. Failure can be something super simple all the way to something pretty serious. Failure does not have a specifically defined level of anything. When I typically think of failure, I think of the worst possible outcome, short of the world imploding. It’s pretty bad. But what I have to keep reminding myself is that failure is not that bad all of the time. In fact, failure could be a good thing, even if success wasn’t achieved from the effort.
I want to think of failure as fuel. A fuel that powers me to continue trying and growing as I continue to expand my life. Success is such an ambiguous definition depending on what you are working on or who you are talking to. For that matter, failure is ambiguous as well.
No matter what you are doing, if you think you just failed at it, let that be your fuel to try again. Let that fuel power you to keep going and keep evolving to keep failing to eventually reach that goal you set out to achieve. I promise, generally, failure will not kill you (unless you work with heavy machinery or explosives, but that’s not what I’m talking about). No matter how much our society tells us that it isn’t, failure is a normal part of life.
Let your failure be your fuel to power you to the success you are seeking. Failure is beautiful.