Failure is an Illusion: Have You Been Fooled?

by | Jul 19, 2010 | General Career Advice

The word “failure” isn’t in my vocabulary. Honestly, I can’t remember a time when I ever considered myself or anyone else a “failure.”

Now, that’s not because I’m perfect. Far from it, I’d say. I make mistakes on a daily basis. But that’s the difference. Mistakes are not failures. Mistakes are lessons designed to push you in another direction. The whole idea of failure is that it’s permanent.

Are You Fail-Happy?

Let’s say you’re pushing really hard on a door and it just won’t budge. Obviously, you didn’t notice the discrete sign just to the right of the door that says “Pull”. What would you do?  Would you give up and just assume you’re a failure at opening doors? That might be a little dramatic, no? It would be much more logical to simply change your approach: stop pushing and start pulling. Problem solved, failure averted.

I think some people who shout failure at the drop of a hat have the victim mentality. They celebrate failure as proof that nothing good will ever come to them.

Victims whine that the “pull” sign wasn’t visible enough. They blame the person who built the door, who was clearly trying to make them look bad.  They point fingers and accuse anyone in their path because failure is never their fault. Obviously, people are always trying to find tricky ways to make them fail. Even after seeing the sign, victims will often give up and admit defeat because pulling might work for everyone else, but it probably wouldn’t work for them.

Then there’s the self-righteous failure. This is the person who, upon seeing the sign says, “If this door doesn’t open the way I want it to open, it’s not worth opening!” They walk away feeling that at least they have their dignity.

Failure only exists when you throw your hands in the air and wave the white flag. Giving up, whatever the reason, is the true failure.

Failure is nothing more than a place on the road to success where you decided to stop.

But it’s not permanent. You can pick up and start moving down that road again anytime you want.

You can heed the lessons any time you want. You can return to that door and follow the instructions on the sign. And by doing so, your “permanent” failure has become a simple mistake. It’s become a lesson for next time. Whenever you approach a door, you’ll have this experience to help you. You’ll look for a sign. You’ll try pushing and, if that doesn’t work, you’ll try pulling. You’ll also know that simply giving up won’t get you closer to your goal of walking through the door.

The whole idea that failure exists and is a permanent, immovable state is just an illusion. It’s designed to weed out the weak, the victims and the self-righteous. Don’t be fooled.

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About the Author

Chrissy Scivicque is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and certified Professional Career Manager (PCM). She is an author, in-demand presenter and international speaker known for engaging, entertaining, educating and empowering audiences of all sizes and backgrounds. Learn more here.

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