This last Saturday I did my 12 miler and last long run before my half this Saturday. I’m so excited! I’ve been really, really into the Jillian Michaels podcasts and one of the ones I was listening to was about failure. The podcast was about how failure is a GOOD THING! And I completely agree! I remember the first time (and only time) I got an F. It was awful. I am not an F student…not even close!! One of my coworkers told me that it’s good for me to get an F and at the time I couldn’t even imagine why. Now I think I have a little deeper understand.
On my run, I started to think about all of the good things that have come into my life because I failed (or perceived myself as having failed.
- In 9th grade I got my first A- ever. Ever. I was one of THOSE kids. I first went to the teacher begging to do extra credit and then went home and sobbed after being told no. This was the beginning of me learning to not be so hard on myself! One thing that my parents have always expected from us is that we do our best. I’ve had to learn over the years that my best doesn’t mean perfect and it definitely doesn’t mean someone else’s best. It’s something that I sometimes still have to remind myself.
- In college, I got that F I mentioned before. I took the class again and got a D. Finally I took it from a different instructor and got an A-. Yes, it was my third time, so the class wasn’t anything new. Yes, the first teacher is quite a bit harder. But I discovered learning styles that I worked well with. I learned that with hard things, I need repetition. I learned that there’s no shame in trying again until you get your desired result. I also learned I’m not very good at memorization. haha
- When I was applying to colleges, I really wanted to go to a particular one and convinced myself that one of the scholarships they offered was my key to being able to go there. When I was rejected from that scholarship, I thought all my dreams of going to that school were shattered. I was later awarded a different scholarship, which allowed me to go to that school, didn’t hinder me from joining the organization that I participated in my entire college career (something I never could have done had I received the other scholarship due to the requirements I would have had in order to keep it) and then this organization lead to the full-time job I now have that I was able to acquire after graduation. What a blessing that I didn’t get that first scholarship!
- Other failures have taught me (or at least tried to teach me): that if I really, truly want something I need to go for it, communication is the key to a good relationship, regret is one of the worst things to carry around with you and it’s hard to get rid of, it’s ok to open myself to new experiences and I have a lot of room for improvement.
During my run, I also thought of the type of person I would be without all these failures. And you know what? I didn’t like the person I imagined. Who wants someone who has never, ever had a reason to improve? Or who has never been out of their comfort zone long enough to fail? Someone who has never faced a challenge? I know so much of who I am today is because of those challenges I’ve faced and now and then hitting rock bottom and needing to reevaluate the situation.
Have you seen those billboards that say “Failed, failed, failed and then….Persistence” That billboard in particular is about Abraham Lincoln. I don’t know how many of you saw “Lincoln” but if you haven’t you need to! It’s phenomenal. We think of Lincoln as this amazing man who did amazing things and he was and did! But his life was plastered with failures. But look at the amazing things he did because he learned from those experiences and kept going. Who knows what would have happened if after the first failure he had given up. The world would not be the same. I believe the greatest people this world has known have also been the greatest failures. But what makes them great is their response to the failure, not the failure itself.
Failures are really for our benefit. What a blessing in disguise they are! I’m so grateful for my failures. They’ve made me the better person I am today than I would have been without them. So don’t be afraid to fail. But afraid that you’re not taking chances that open you up to failure.
How do you perceive failure?
Have you seen your failures improve your life?