“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” — J.K. Rowling
Why Failure is so Important
Failure, as much as it hurts, is an important part of life. In fact, failure is necessary.
I have failed more times than I’d like to admit. And I’m not talking about small failures; I’m talking about the kind of failures that rock your world, completely altering the landscape of your relationships, finances, and mental-wellbeing. I have tried to blog for two years and have had three unsuccessful blogs.
And, if you’re anything like me, then you’ve also most likely failed many times over. I can’t say that I particularly enjoy failing, but failure, through its life-altering lessons, makes us into better persons.
In fact, failure is life’s great teacher; it’s nature’s chisel that chips away at all the excess, stripping down egos as it molds and shapes us through divine intentions.
Without failure, we’d be less capable of compassion, empathy, kindness, and great achievement; we would be less likely to reach for the moon and the stars.
It’s through failure that we learn the greatest lessons that life could teach us.
What is Failure?
What is failure, really? Why is it so important to fail at something before we can succeed?
Not too long ago, I wrote an article about 12 Famous People Who Failed and it really got me thinking about the nature of failure. What is it and how does it affect our lives? How does it affect our thoughts, emotions, and our actions?
When we think about failure, we think of things in a negative light. We say that failure is painful and that it causes emotional turmoil and upset, and inflicts agonizing pangs of guilt, regret, and remorse.
But, for those that have known true failure, and have bounced back from it, understand that failure in life is necessary for success. Sure, failing hurts. In fact, it cuts deep like a razor, slicing its way to our inner core. Yet, it’s necessary.
And the most successful people in life have failed the most times. If you try to go through life without failing at anything, then you’re not really living a life at all. Taking risks and falling down flat on our faces is part of life; it makes us into who we are.
When a baby is first learning to walk, she’s going to fall down many times. This, in fact, is failure. But, ask any mother about their baby’s ability to walk and she will wholeheartedly declare that her baby will one day walk. She might fall down many times, but she will surely walk.
Why is the mother so confident that her daughter will walk? Of course, we all know the answer to that. We know that falling down and failing while learning to walk is just a part of life. So, why isn’t failure at other things treated this way?
What we don’t realize as is just what some people had to go to in order to get where they are in life. Like the baby learning to walk, they had to fall down and fail many times.
The problem? Society tends to celebrate the successes rather than highlighting the epic journeys towards success that are filled with trials, tribulations, upsets, setbacks, and failures. It’s not as glamorous to talk about those things.
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” — Michael Jordan
Why It’s Necessary to Fail
In life, it’s necessary to fail. Failure is a steppingstone. In fact, there are 5 very powerful life lessons that failure helps to teach and instill in us. If you’ve recently failed at something in a major way, and you’re going through a difficult time right now, keep these important lessons in mind.
Failure Lesson #1: Experience
The first important lesson gained from failure is experience.
What happens when we fail? When we go through something and can walk away with firsthand experience, it helps us to develop a deeper understanding for life.
The experience of failing at something is truly invaluable. It completely alters our frame-of-mind through the induction of pain. It makes us reflect on the real nature of things and their importance in our lives, transforming and improving our future-selves.
Lesson #2: Knowledge
Failure brings with it important firsthand knowledge. That knowledge can be harnessed in the future to overcome that very failure that inflicted so much pain in the first place. Nothing can replace the knowledge gained from failure.
When Thomas Edison famously failed nearly 10,000 times to create a commercially viable electric lightbulb, with each failure, he gained the knowledge of just one more avenue that didn’t work. It was the accumulated knowledge developed from nearly 10,000 failed attempts that ultimately led to his success.
Lesson #3: Resilience
Failing in life helps to build resilience. The more we fail, the more resilient we become.
In order to achieve great success, we must know resilience. Because, if we think that we’re going to succeed on the first try, or even the first few tries, then we’re sure to set ourselves up for a far more painful failure.
The characteristic of resilience can help us in so many ways in life. Resilience helps to breed success by setting the game up to win. Gone are the lofty expectations that thing will happen overnight, and in comes the expectations that true success will take an enormous amount of work and effort.
Lesson #4: Growth
When we fail, we grow and mature as human beings. We reach deeper meanings and understandings about our lives and why we’re doing the things that we’re doing. This helps us to reflect and take things into perspective, developing meaning from painful situations.
Life is designed for us to grow and improve. From the very genetic fibers that make us into who we are as individual persons, into the fabric of society on a global scale, growth is a fundamental part of us. Without growth, we couldn’t improve life on every front.
Lesson #5: Value
One of the biggest lessons that we can learn from life’s failures is the necessity to create and spread an exceedingly high amount of value. In fact, value lies at the heart of success and a lack of value is a fundamental pillar to failure.
In thinking about your past failures, think about how much value you brought to the table. Could you have offered more value? Would that have prevented failure? When you learn to create immense value, and do so consistently, you will eventually succeed.