The Joy of Failure

How to make the 'F' word your new best friend

Failure_01 (1)With Tess Robinson, Smack Bang Designs

It’s our fault. We screwed it up from the start. We gave a word the wrong meaning. The dudes from Collins got it wrong. The peeps behind Merriam Webster missed the memo. Even the guys from Macmillan stuffed it up.

We made history of a word and left out a crucial part of its meaning. Don’t get me wrong, words have dual meanings and complex concepts for sure. But ‘Failure’ in its current definition has just about the solidity of Aeroplane jelly only 20 minutes into refrigeration. When I read the dictionary definition of failure, my brain does not compute. Because to me, the definition of failure should at least mention a thing or two about learning .

Failure is a state of inability to perform a normal function. Yes that’s correct, but what happens after that? Failure is a state of inability to perform a normal function to leverage change or learning. Better? I think so.

I understand that to some, failure feels like an ending, but I will never stop wholly believing that to fail is to leverage a point of change and learning. Failure is not only a steep and inspiring learning curve, but it is also a door to new experience, understanding and excellence. For those who receive failure with the right attitude, it can be an incredibly motivating kick-in-the-bum to do more, be more and get back on the dang horse. It can provide that perfect ‘aha!’ epiphany and draw us out of same-same. I would go as far as to say that failure is vital to our growth and continued approach to reaching our dreams!


Curvy Learning

Some people trade learning curves in Mexican back alleys for cold hard cash and a black eye. Some people trade learning curves for multidimensional designer drugs and raving bush doofs. Some people trade learning curves for family crises with no happy endings. We all trade learning curves for heartache, heartbreak and a heartshake. Without these experiences of hardship or ‘failure’, where would we be?

I currently trade learning curves with a 24/7 revolving door of work, heated encounters with the ATO, a bank balance that constantly mocks me and being a young leader with a lot still to learn.


Glass case of emotion

Some days I’m in love with what I do for the sheer joy of creating and watching my vision come to life. Other days I wait anxiously to find out if something I’ve emailed off has reached the hands of a happy customer who appreciates the work, because if not, obviously I have failed as a human being.

Other days I frump around because my latest marketing activity seemed to flop faster than an Adam Sandler blockbuster. Then of course there are the dark days where I close my laptop and consider becoming a greenskeeper.

Like most people, I swing between various emotional states. And when I say swing, I mean a full-blown pendulum action – just ask my darling boyfriend. But even in my lowest of lows, my pitch black days when it feels like all I am is a 6 foot hot mess of epic failure, I still know, deep down in my anxiety-riddled heart, that right in that moment, I’m learning something.


How bad can it be?

Think about your absolute worst-case scenario. That time you positively longed to melt into the ground below you and die a thousand deaths before gouging out your eyeballs with a teaspoon. When the taste of your perceived failure was so acidic that you couldn’t stand it. And ask yourself, 1. Can you handle it? and 2. Can you learn from it? The answer, will almost always be yes.

Sometimes you need to hit the bottom of the bathroom floor to find the gemstones. While it can be agonising to endure and wrought with emotion, it’s important to allow yourself the freedom to fail. Often, the very act of failing the mechanics of the process reminds you how to muster the courage to see the silver lining in everything (cos just about anything is better than how you’re feeling in the pit!)

Back on the horse

It’s in those dark moments, we need to get all bootcamp bad-ass on ourselves and force ourselves to get back up again. In life, and most certainly in business, real strength means picking yourself back up and trying one more time. Even after humiliation, anger and pain. Even after your 28th hard drive crashes into eternity with your holy grail of files. Even after the phone call politely parting ways with your services. Even after the revelation that you’ve missed the cut off to submit your work for a coveted award. Up you get, on your feet and face the flame. Stronger, wiser, and more determined than ever.

You might make a risky business move and end up falling flat on your face. You might pour in your heart and soul into an idea only to find out that there is no market for it. Or perhaps your investment deal that looked oh-so-promising turns sour and leaves you for dead. The book deal crashes and burns. The new manager doesn’t last. The client hates your work. You feel like the star of an ‘epic fail’ YouTube montage. They don’t come up with monotonous cliches for nothing. For doesn’t kill you really will make you stronger, because when you try your best and learn from the rest, you never really fail at all.

So welcome failure with open arms and a new perspective on what it means for your future!

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