Dealing With Failure

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One week ago today I proudly started a new project called ‘Always There‘, it was a project where people could share stories of when people have helped them, stood by them, lifted them up when they were down, and most importantly showed a certain someone they would always been there no matter what. It was great*. There was only one tiny problem with it; it was a complete failure.

Now, let’s be clear. Failure is a relative term. On Championship Manager 00/01 for instance, I failed to win the Premier League with Sheffield Wednesday – beaten on the last day of the season no less. That is failure, and dramatic failure at that. Then there was the time I tried to jump over a big puddle as a 5 year old and ended up drenched. Failure. Getting a first in my university degree? Failed.

Theres actually two ways you can look at failure (in addition to the other million ways). The first is from a goal setting perspective. You set up your goal and you either achieve it, or you don’t. Then there is the more existential view of failure. This is where the verb ‘to be’ comes into play – I am a failure, you are a failure. You are suddenly defined by it, it is all-encompassing.

See, our view of failure is undoubtedly skewed by society. Failure being a subjective thing is relative to the goals you set. Note the word ‘you’ set. You should be the only person to set your own goals. The issue is that they are almost inevitably influenced from the outside. You set a goal to finish a marathon, then Tim comes along and says he did his first marathon in less than 4 hours. Tina comes out of the woodwork to tell you that she graduated and immediately got a job as the CEO of Apple without even so much as an interview. You get a ‘normal’ job after graduation and you feel like a failure, even though you had never previously expected to be CEO of Apple by the time you were 22.

This outside influence then forces your goals upwards, without any logical reason. Pushing things further and further out of reach. The failure is then defined by someone else’s expectation. That is why we are often not so scared of failure itself but scared of the reaction to failure. What people will think of it. What they will think of you, and me. Growing up I seemed to sense a wolf pack of people waiting, waiting for failure to occur. That is so they could immediately jump in and ridicule me. How dare you try something? Look at you, doing something. The cheek of it.

It is not all doom and gloom though.

You can opt out of this cycle, if you follow a strict diet of ‘not giving a shit’ (Also known as the NGAS diet), you will suddenly see that the people who look down on failure are the ones who live through other people’s success. With this approach failure doesn’t actually mean anything at all, it is just another thing that happens. Like the Sun rising or Donald Trumps ability to speak for hours without saying anything of any value at all.

Failure is a learning process, it gives you little clues as to why success didn’t happen and where it could come from in the future. A learning process, and a vital one. I am also glad it is a learning process which doesn’t involve having to actually go to school and sit and listen – I was never much of an academic person. All you need to do to be a success at failure is try anything and everything that comes into your mind, and I am sure you will also be a failure. Just like me. Successful failures.

OK, so my little project failed to take off, which pretty much makes it the Ostrich of the bird world. 270cm and 150kg of flightless failure*. But that’s ok, in fact it is more than ok. I will settle for that. My biggest failure would have been not to try at all.

Mindfump.

*It wasn’t.

*I seem to be slightly hard on the Ostrich here, they don’t fly because they don’t need to. They evolved out of it.

 

Read more, its good for you.

#85 Kindness – ‘Altruism Does Not Exist’

#17 Christmas – ‘When You Are 5’

#41 Charlie – ‘Dealing With Disappointment’

48 Comments

  1. I’m pretty sure setting my goals too high is how I got in this mess of depression in the first place. I now aim for above average in most things, it’s a lot easier to achieve.
    It’s also my goal at work, top tips for being lazy at work: Set the bar higher than your colleagues but nowhere near as high as you could…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think that contributed to my problems too. I always found in large companies, if you tried hard you then get judged against your own standards rather than universal ones. One of my many reasons for wanting to be self employed.

      Liked by 4 people

        1. I’m with you on that one. Maybe book 2 or 3 can secure your future. Also the poster will be sent from Ireland, I went to the print store today but I forgot to create a larger image, so it would of been pixelated – clever me. I’ll resize and print in Ireland.

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          1. I really ought to get over that writer’s block I’ve got for book two then :p
            No worries about the poster. It’s taking me longer than intended to send the book. I slept through post office opening hours today… I’m also a bit apprehensive about signing the book as I’m convinced I’m going to make an error lol

            Liked by 1 person

  2. I actually really loved your ‘always there’ project! Gutted it hasn’t taken off! I was going to submit something but am struggling to think of a positive example! Damn Depression! Love this post though xx

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Aw that is very kind! It did get a lot of interest, just not a lot of submissions. Not enough to go ahead with it anyway. There will be plenty more projects for you to take part in I am sure. Thank you as always 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the idea but I’m not a ‘serious’ blogger and I like things simple. I’ve loads of great stories to help others but I’m not a competitor and it’s hard to recognise something I’m not fully ‘out’ of yet. You’re brilliant so I’m sure you can tweak it to perfection. Onwards & Upwards lil pink brain xx

    Liked by 2 people

  4. “My biggest failure would of been not to try at all.”

    Spot on! I’m sixty; I have few regrets how I’ve lived. But the few are usually about times I didn’t try — either by not trying at all, or by not doing my best when I did try. The remaining few regrets are about times I did the horribly wrong thing when I knew better than to do them.

    Failures are better called “learning experiences” if you’ve genuinely learned something from them because that places the emphasis where it belongs — on picking yourself up and getting on with it.

    I thought about writing a post for you on when a certain person gave me a hand up, but then I realized I wasn’t ready to go public with the story yet. That’s why I didn’t submit it and not because your idea failed to intrigue me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you are absolutely right, it is only a learning experience, if you try and learn something from it. I think a lot of people don’t try and do this and just avoid the failure all together. No problems at all about not submitting, I would only ever want people to submit if they felt comfortable. I hope to hear the story one day 🙂

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  5. I’m so sorry to hear that your project didn’t take off. It seemed like a good one, and I’m sorry I didn’t have anything to contribute! I don’t think that makes you a failure, though. Love the NGAS diet!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve always been harder on myself than anyone else is, I tend to set myself goals, daily or otherwise, and they area nearly always on the edge of achievable, I can make them, but only if the day goes perfectly, which it rarely does.
    I know all about this problem, and how I should set more attainable goals so I can get that sense of achievement without putting myself under so much stress, but my brain is stubborn and won’t let me.
    I took a day off yesterday and went out, and was annoyed at the time I was taking away from my writing and from figuring out how to get sales. I should have just been enjoying myself.
    I think the NGAS diet is something I should try, maybe I could stick to it easier than those regular diets, lol.

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    1. I can totally relate, I find that other peoples criticism pales in comparison to the criticism I give myself. I do think you could try the NGAS diet though! haha. Sorry for the late reply I have been away from the city for a week or so. Back now 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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