Every task that we take on in life has the ability to be a success or a failure. Something as mundane as a trip to Starbucks can even end in defeat. Did you acquire your coffee or didn’t you? The main task at hand is getting coffee but there are a million other chances for disaster on your journey to caffeine. Is there gas in the car or could the lack of gas keep you from the coffee? Is there someone who doesn’t know how to drive that you’ll have an accident with and end up in the hospital instead of the comfy chair at Starbucks? Will a volcano erupt over Iceland and scramble flight patterns keeping you from the only brew you wanted from Ethiopia? Life can be so hard.
There are so many published works about the character building traits of failure, but in reality you failed and you are looking desperately for someone or something to blame. I once told the worlds media at the Olympics that I didn’t perform well because my aura was black and I missed a bus to the arena and had to find other means of transportation in a foreign country and it just wasn’t my night. Couldn’t I have just told them I was nervous and didn’t have a good skate? A sane person perhaps would have gone with the uttermost truth, but while I didn’t lie, I still had to find a way to describe my feelings to the world and have them understand me. This plan of course backfired and I got cast as an insane lady-boy who believes in auras and can’t read a bus timetable.
Whether you are an athlete, a doctor, or a garbage man it is always easier to blame something ridiculous on your flaws than to deal with the main thing that caused your failure, it’s usually yourself. We have parents that dote on us, grandparents that spoil us, teachers willing us to succeed and through all of that we build an ego that doesn’t allow failure. We are constantly put up against huge opponents whether it’s winning the Olympics or getting into an Ivy League school and due to our upbringings, for the most part, we don’t expect or know how to deal with things when they don’t go our way.
If we constantly thought about failure, we wouldn’t leave our homes. We wouldn’t have the strength to work or make money and we wouldn’t survive as a society. Life is competition and according to Kelly Clarkson, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” If we compete on a daily basis against life and its seemingly unlimited opportunities, we have to be ready to lose sometimes. We have to find victories, even when we lose. There is the ultimate goal of victory, but to win you have to win over the entire process of achievement. If you didn’t win first place, what were the area’s where you did succeed? Were your essays on the bar exam incredible and you only had issues with a few multiple-choice questions? That is a victory.
It’s easier said than done to focus on lesser goals than you’d originally set for yourself. I, for example, haven’t won the Olympics yet. I have won lots of other competitions. I’ve improved my skills when and wherever needed. I have explored different realms of art and choreography to try to get a leg up on the competition, but are all those victories enough? Probably not, but to continue on I have to look at my successes as ‘enough’. I have to be proud of what I’ve accomplished even when it’s not ideal. Your accomplishments and victories are the most important aspect of life. Your lives, children, families, salaries, all are victories. I challenge you to believe in your failures as much as the victories you may take for granted. Grace in failure is what creates character and strength, and it creates the opportunity for you to win another day. Believe in yourself.