The Defined Failure

How do you define success? For some it is a corner office with a view. For some it is a big happy family. For some it is fame or riches or recognition or joy. Whatever success is for you I am sure you have at least a vague definition of it in your head. At the very least a vague goal, like getting a new job or promotion or house or whatever. What I wonder though is how many people have a definition of failure.

I have failed almost as many times as I have started over. Sometimes I feel like the definition of failure, when I look in the mirror and think of all that I have tried to succeed at. When I think of how close I have gotten to success and how far I have fallen it can be hard to get back up. When I travel down these dark paths of thought I can convince myself that I am indeed a total failure. That is why having a definition of failure is important.

When you put some thought into it you begin to see that failing at something is actually pretty difficult. As long as you are breathing and mentally capable you can probably keep trying. You can see that often times failure is just a set back. You can see that failure is really just giving up.

What is my definition of failure?

I would have to say that for me the true definition of failure is when I can no longer keep trying. Failure is existing in a state where success has yet to come. Is a rejection letter from a publisher a failure? No, because I can polish up the book and submit it to another publisher, or I can write another book or I can self publish.

Is a business that only loses money a failing business? No, it is a business that has yet to find success. Obviously finding a way to make it stop losing money is important (because going bankrupt as a business is a pretty large set back) but it has not failed yet. Even if it goes bankrupt that does not stop one from taking stock on what went wrong and trying again.

I think that we never really fail at anything. Even if you look at professional sports, one can fail at winning a gold medal but that does not make one a failure. Chances are that even being committed and good enough to compete for a medal means that individual is better than the majority of people. Even if they finish dead last I would argue they are not a failure because they tried and they may choose to keep trying.

Why talk about the defined failure?

Because I think that it is more important than defining success. Define what you think would make you a failure and strive to not be that. If you want to be a Rockstar then success seems like it might be playing to a sold out stadium and making millions, but I don’t think being fifty and playing at small local bars makes you a failure. Because the definition of failure is giving up on a dream out of fear of never succeeding.

Don’t focus so much on success, and instead focus on defining failure and working to avoid it.

I have been stuck in a rough place the past few months, where I seem to be unable to move forward in anything. A bunch of false starts and set backs keep pressing me down. Thinking on this stuff has helped get me out of a bad place. Deciding to stop chasing success and instead focus on avoiding failure is helping to get me out of a hole.

Success may never come but that does not mean I am a failure. It does not mean you are a failure.

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