I asked the simple question, what is the purpose of failure? Why do we have to fail? How come our instinct does not kick in innately to prevent us from undertaking these doomed activities anyway? Well, I asked this question years ago, and of course, I had no answer for over a decade. A few years later I ran into Dr. Myles Munroe’s quote: “When purpose is unknown, abuse is inevitable”. Well that’s great I thought, now all I had to do was find the purpose for failure.
Well in order to do so, I had to start by defining failure. Merriam-Webster defines failure as “a lack of success”. They, in turn, define success as “the achievement of an aim or purpose”. A glaring omission in both those definitions in the lack of the concept of temporality. Unless you are dead, you cannot declare yourself a failure or a success.
SUCCESS IS NOT A DESTINATION, WELL NEITHER IS FAILURE
Success and failure are not destinations rather they are ongoing themes in life suggesting that are more likely a mindset or a world view. These are not static concepts but they are dynamic concepts which are ever changing and need to be constantly put in context. You can fail in business but have a wonderful marriage. Would you in that instance consider yourself a failure or a success?
Well, the answer is neither, life is not that simple. Also, only time will tell. Let me give you an example Oprah ended her show on a high, everyone adored her and gave her a wonderful going away party. A few months later everyone was calling her network a failure and suggesting she quit.
What about Bernie Madoff? He was extremely wealthy and well respected in his community for most of his life but we all know how his things evolved. He is currently incarcerated and one of his sons committed suicide in the aftermath of the scandal. Should he be considered a success or a failure? Well again, only time will tell although he likely needs a miracle to turn things around at this point.
YOUR LEVEL OF MATURITY MUST MATCH YOUR LEVEL OF SUCCESS
Consider this, even if you achieve “success” at a given time point in your life, failure is still nipping at your heels. Have you ever heard of the saying “more money more problems?” (RIP Biggie…). Well, the problem is the more you have, the more you have to lose. One thing I know for sure is, If your level of maturity does not match your level of success, there are 3 possible outcomes; you will either lose the success, lose yourself or much worse lose your life.
TIME IS YOUR FRIEND
The one thing that everyone in this world has an equal measure of is time. We all get 24 hours in a day and once we become adults we all can choose how to spend our time. My advice to you is to put everything you experience within the context of eternity and suddenly you realize that things are just not that serious. If eternity is too long for you, consider everything you experience within the context of the average life expectancy which is anywhere from 60-80 years depending on where you live. 365 days x 80 = 29200 days. That is a really long time.
I personally refuse to allow the decision I make in one day affect or determine my worldview it just doesn’t make any sense. I personally have a running counter on my phone of the number of days I have been married. And whenever my husband and I have a bad day, I literally just pull out the counter and consider the number of good days I have had with him. At the time I am writing this article, I have been married for exactly 3405 days and I can say I have honestly had less than 300 horrible days. Now, does that mean I have a perfect marriage? Absolutely not! Marriage is hard and anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I am not easy to deal with at all. Just imagine being married to a know-it-all ENTJ, yikes!
From a pure numbers point of view, you cannot let a bad day, week, month, year or even a decade sum up your life. A bad decade is still only 1/8 of your life and there are a lot more days left to consider. That will be like a making a business decision or a legal decision with only 1/8th of the facts.
THE PURPOSE FOR FAILURE
Now that I have debunked the concept of a failed life. Let me focus on sharing the purpose of failure. What you perceive as failure is really just an opportunity to re-strategize. And if you do not understand the purpose for this perceived “failure” you will abuse it.
Do not allow yourself to be ransacked by your emotions or feelings. One thing I have learned about feelings is the fact that they always change and they change without giving you any advance notice. You just wake up one-morning thinking and feeling different.
THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER
I wrote the statement below over a decade ago and I still stand by it.
“I am always floored by how many people I meet who think successful people never fail. Truth be told, most successful people I know fail more times than they are successful. Personally, I have failed at most things I attempted. However, I have learned that success is not a destination rather it is a mindset, a way of life, a certain perspective, a prism through which I view life. When other people see setbacks I see an opportunity to re-strategize. I firmly believe that failing is not designed to stop you, it is designed to give you an opportunity to re-strategize. So please stop misusing and misinterpreting your failures and start re-strategizing.”