Thoughts on Failure

Failure is defined by the Mirriam-Webster dictionary as “omission of occurrence or performance” (specifically a duty or action), “a state of inability to perform a normal function” or “a fracturing or giving way under stress”.

It has a few other definitions involving bankruptcy, deterioration and the very profound “one that has failed”, but I’d like to take a moment to consider the first few meanings. 

An omission of performance, an inability to perform and crumbling under pressure: all things we fear, often to the point of irrationality. We know we should learn from our mistakes but gloss over the fact that mistakes are uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing. Fear is toxic in itself: it cripples preventing you from functioning, so it is naturally intertwined with failure.

We all have that one big screw-up that was bigger than all the rest, the one that left us feeling gutted and empty inside. Although we always preach learning from our mistakes, if asked, how comfortable would we feel discussing it openly? And would we be able to scribble down a sterile list of lessons learned?

Or would we sit there, glossing over the details of our experiences and ultimately attribute responsibility of that failure to someone else. Because it is too frightening to admit that we just couldn’t do it: no explanations or excuses, and in doing so, take responsibility.

Just a thought.

7 thoughts on “Thoughts on Failure

  1. A personally very raw emotion, Mira. It is tough to face failure no matter how blase you may be externally. It is very hard to come to terms with. Once you do, everything else becomes irrelevant. And you realize how easy it was to face it. I say this as an expert on failure! My own, obviously….

    1. I’m looking forward to being able to do that. I think it’s important for your (my) growth to be able to look at something objectively and say you didn’t/couldn’t do it rather than blaming everything else under the sun. Lots of learning for me ahead I’m sure!

  2. Oh yes, a normal human reaction is to place blame on someone or something. Humans are not designed to succeed at all they do. Sometimes, it takes more than one failure to make you realize you are on the wrong road.

  3. To be human is to fail sometimes. Mistakes and screw ups are part of life. They carry shame because the image we project of ourselves isn’t accurate. We’re not always the in control, perfect human beings we project. We can dwell on the mistakes or acknowledge humbly that we’re flawed and move forward.

    1. Well said Liz! A lot of it has to do with ego – what we’d like to be vs. what we actually are. Often we are not what we hope we are and that is a hard pill to swallow.

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