“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
The biggest taboo we suffer as a culture is undoubtedly failure. It’s no wonder copies of “Stars Without Makeup” fly off bodega shelves in a New York minute. Gossip rags are a confirmation to the viewer that others fail too. Why is the news an epic media vomit of everything going wrong? Because we feel comforted knowing that we’re not the only ones falling down. Rather than celebrate or learn from inevitable human failure, we treat mistakes like criminals with the intention of sending them straight to death row. Winning is the order of the day.
Latest cultural behavior has us hiding behind a façade of perfectly manicured social media profiles – and while we’re struggling on varying degrees, our “friends” appear to be having the time of their lives in a virtual utopia where we’re all immune to cellulite, bad sex and chocolate addictions. The constant comparison to the appearance of other people is a sickness more potent than Pont l’Eveque French cheese.
Turns out, if one is to succeed; they will inevitably fail along the way – most likely multiple times. The road to success is paved with monumental trials and tribulations and because we’re so preoccupied with looking good, we conveniently forget that looking stupid sometimes is also part of the deal. I came across an article in the New York Times this month about conferences for startup tech companies celebrating failure, and was inspired by the concept of a bunch of people getting together to share where they went wrong. Failure is an integral part of every quest – and I know firsthand that I always learned the most from my losses. I had been wrongly labeling inevitable challenges as FAILURE for decades.
Failing is certainly not comfortable. Expect to be embarrassed beyond your wildest imagination. Expect to disappoint people you love, and expect to disappoint yourself. On the upside – the lessons and personal growth are second to none. The one who ultimately succeeds doesn’t have time for comparison or blame, they’re too busy getting on with it … steaming ahead with unwavering focus, falling over and knocking their head on the way, but continuing to pick themselves back up over and over and over again …
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” - Thomas A. Edison