I spent the better part of my life thinking about success and failure as two different outcomes. One was good; one was bad. Black. White. Maybe an occasional stripe or polka dot, but still very clear contrast.
But a funny thing happened on the road to successfully losing 100 pounds. I learned that a) success is awesome, and b) failure is…well, fairly darned awesome, too.
Admittedly, failing doesn’t always feel awesome, especially not at the time it occurs. Whether our investment is time, money, emotion, or any combination of those, realizing that we’re failing hurts. I’m not saying it shouldn’t hurt; in fact, it probably should, if it was a thing worth trying in the first place.
The thing is, too often we let that failure define us. We mentally slap that finger-thumb L-is-for-loser sign on our foreheads and slink around like the pathetic, low-life creatures we’ve proven ourselves to be. Eventually we become afraid to even try, or give up on it entirely, and that is a truly miserable way to live.
I know (now) that virtually all of my life successes are the direct result of failures. (I stumbled onto a few things that I got right the first time. But a very few. ) Success and failure go hand in hand. In the past, I was so caught up in the negative impact of failure that I couldn’t see the beauty in it, that succeeding was almost always the result of the input, or lessons learned, from failing. I do try to fail better these days, but even when I don’t make it, the joy is in the trying.
Where would Batman have been without Robin? Or Andy without Barney, Sherlock Holmes without Dr. Watson, Mary Richards without Rhoda, Lucy without Ethel, Don Quixote without Sancho Panza? Perhaps just as successful, perhaps not. It’s tough to say, but I do know this: the experience was richer with the hero AND the sidekick.
But maybe that’s just me. You may feel differently, and you are always welcome to share those feelings in the comments!
On a related note, which explains what has me thinking about success and failure today, I came across some quotes in my files over the weekend that I’d collected years ago for some class or another and had forgotten:
Most of those were for giggles, but that last one was the intent of the lesson.
How do you define success? Is that your original definition, or have you refined it over the years?