Failure is a Success - or is it?
“Failure is a success if we learn from it” Malcolm Forbes
Oh man! If this is true, am I ever successful! Some people who’ve known me for a very long time could give you a long list of my really big failures. They could expand on all those things I failed at, especially a long list of failed relationships.
And they’d be right, of course. But isn’t there a fine line between failure and success? It appears I’ve walked that fine line. And yet it’s a matter of perspective. No one knows one’s inner life. And it’s there that the truth of success or failure lies. It’s there that we process the learning of our failures.
And I’m talking about myself here. It’s taken a lot of work to see the subtle differences between what people think of as failure and what on a personal level turned out to be a fantastic success; success on that deep psychological level.
Every “failure” was a step closer to self awareness, a step closer to inner peace. Along this journey, I read many pop psychology and self help books. I went to many seminars and workshops. And when workshops became available on the internet, I ‘attended’ many of those too. One of the most influential speakers I’ve ever heard is Lisa Nichols. In her book Abundance Now, she talks about her view on failed relationships - a view that shocked me because it rang so true.
There’s no such thing as failed relationships, she believes. She calls them ‘completed’ relationships. We couple with another for a purpose and when that purpose is completed, we part. A part of me has always believed this. I was able to part from former partners with love and affection and gratitude for all we had accomplished as a couple. I’ve become more of myself and more compassionate because of those relationships.
I was validated by Lisa Nichols’ written words and the words she spoke. And I started to see my life as a series of completions - ‘works in progress’ where each step in my life, each success, was like an awkward piece fitted into a complex jigsaw.
I’d been searching for understanding, for meaning in my life. I saw that each person I’d been close to held a part of that puzzle, gave me some understanding and I started to see my life more clearly.
Am I the completed puzzle yet? No, not at all! Now I see that my life is a series of puzzles, each with a glorious, colourful, multifaceted image when completed. And each puzzle of my life is etched in my heart, in my memory.
Do I still have ‘failures’? Most certainly, and while I draw breath I will. I am human and the human condition is to experience life and while we experience life we are bound to make ‘mistakes’, to fail. And in the failing, if we learn the lesson, we are also bound to succeed. And success comes in the learning, not in perfection.
And I consider my failures to be my greatest successes - I’ve learned from each failure, taking my learnings, all of them, from one experience into the next, until right now, I am a sum total of all my failures - or is it all my successes?