“Failure” is a failure to find an opportunity in any given situation.
--- Anthony Silard
The word “failure” is a failure as a concept. Why? It’s rooted in using present-moment thoughts to evaluate past actions. It translates roughly as, “I feel like I failed because I didn’t do (yesterday) what I feel (today) I should have done.” But if you felt like you should have done something differently yesterday, you would have done it differently yesterday! You did the best you could yesterday given the psychological, emotional, and material resources available to you yesterday. Now that you are armed with your experience of what happened yesterday, you will act differently today and in the future. This learning recasts “failure” as an essential ingredient for growth. I can’t speak for you, but I can say in hindsight that the times in my own life when I most felt like I “failed” were the times when a part of myself was underdeveloped and needed to grow. I was in need of a deeper learning that I would never have obtained otherwise. The events that others might label “failure” were my most profound teachers—calls to action; bright murals on the wall insisting that I take notice of them; reminders of major changes I needed to embrace to set my life on a better path. Go back and take a look at the events you have labeled “failure” in your own life. Ask yourselves these three questions: “What was the benefit to me of what happened?”, “What type of person might I have become if it hadn’t happened?” and “How did this event help what I most value to crystallize?” Use your responses to recognize the true identity of “failure”: the necessary learning you need to move forward in your life.
Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday each week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).