We strive for success - we yearn for it. We want to be proud of our accomplishments and for others to be proud, too. We want to set an example for those who come after us. Success is a beautiful thing, but it can be boastful, spark jealousy, and disorient even level-headed people. Once a person succeeds, they often expect nothing less. Successes are important, sure, but our failures are what we should paying attention to. Here are just four ways in which failure trumps success.
Failure teaches us.
Okay, you've definitely heard this one before. But how often have you actually thought about it? Take a second to really consider it. Here's an example...
So, you didn’t know you couldn’t put aluminum foil in the microwave. It caught on fire. Will you ever do it again? Absolutely not. The best you can do is be happy it was your roommate’s cheap microwave when you go to replace it. The point is, you live and learn. It may have been embarrassing, it may have been awkward, but you'll never have to do it again. You learned from that epic fail.
On a more serious note, the same thing can go for bad relationships, partying too much (studying too little), and a bad job interview. No matter what it is, the next time, you’ll do better. Which leads me right into this next point.
Failure inspires us.
If we never failed, we would settle. We would settle for abusive relationships. We would settle for a C in bio. We would ultimately settle for a lesser version of ourselves. When you get a D on your midterm, you may not feel inspired, but you can bet you’ll be studying even harder for that final.
Here’s another really good example: authors. 99% of authors don’t get their manuscripts published the first time. Even J.K. Rowling, yes, inventor of Harry Potter, got rejected TWELVE TIMES! Did her failures make her falter? No, quite the opposite: she pushed herself even farther. Think about it.
Failure makes us proud.
Without knowing a great failure, you will never know a great success. Think about it like this: if you fail a class and have to retake it next semester, you will be that much more proud when you pass with an A. If you passed with an A from the start, of course that’d be fantastic, but you wouldn’t be nearly as proud of it.
If we did not know failure, we would not know success. We feel crappy when we fail. We feel like we aren’t good enough. We feel like we can do better. But It’s okay to fail the first time.
Failure is part of life.
If we didn’t fail at something once in a while, we wouldn’t be human. One of my favorite quotes says just that. “Life is about making mistakes. Death is about wishing you had made more.” I truly believe that everything in life happens for a reason, whether it be good or bad, and I believe failure is one of those things. It may not feel good at the time, but in the end, it all makes sense. Our failures shape who we are, and we should never wish that away.
Let’s stop thinking that failure is the end-all, be-all. Instead, let's think of it as the beginning of something wonderful. Just remember: We wouldn’t know how great success feels if we didn’t feel failure. Our limits would be set by our successes, and we would never see our own advancement. Every mistake we make is a lesson learned, and these lessons give us our individuality and can change our perspective. Celebrate your successes, but don’t forget about the failures that got you there.
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