Failing in life is underestimated.
We all know failing is a necessity of success – so why does the word ‘fail’ have such a negative connotation?
Dictionary.com has the “slang” term of fail as “to make an embarrassing or humorous mistake, be in a humiliating situation.” We do not want to fail out of fear. Fear of embarrassment, fear of being humiliated, or even being laughed at. We need to change our perception of failing to use it as the tool that it is or it will eat our dreams alive. A quick google search of “fail psychology” provides some daunting results.
The first link, Psychology Today, says failing makes us view the same goal as unattainable, it distorts our own abilities, it makes you believe you are helpless, and then a recurrent fear of failing is created.
Maybe failing was the wrong word to label this as. Failing a test is one thing, but failing a workout or study session? Not so much.
This word has blanketed anything that does not reach a certain mark. You fail studying and then you memorize a little more, and a little more, and a little more, and then you fail a little less, and a little less, until you are close to not failing as possible.
You work out until your shot is close to not failing, or your speed is as close to not failing, but the truth is, you should always be failing. Isn’t that a funny statement? You should fail the rest of your life … or else you will really fail.
For this explanation I will refer to the highly regarded Jordan Peterson – a college professor of psychology at the University of Toronto and a clinical psychologist (less renowned in the U.S. for he resides in Canada).
In his bestselling book/guide “12 Rules for Life” his primary rule, that everything is based off of, is the timeless yin and yang. The white and black spherical symbol we are all vaguely familiar with.
Why this symbol? And how does this relate to failing? The symbol represents chaos and order. There is chaos in order and there is order in chaos. No matter how ordered your life is, you will be paraded with chaos, and no matter how chaotic you think you may be – order is apart of everything we do.
So, fail with order. In other words, get better with order. Fail everyday in someway, but only just above your capabilities. Peterson emphasizes how important this is because if you are failing way below your goal then you will become helpless in a heartbeat, but when you fail just below the mark, it only makes you want it that much more
Think of teaching a child to speak. Humans do this funny thing we don’t even realize and that is speaking just above the child’s ability of language in order to improve their linguistic ability.
Take notice next time you are around a younger child and see how the parents put mental finish lines just out of reach for their kids – only for them to kind of understand enough to learn more and more each time
It is complex, I admit this, but it is primal in nature and beautiful in a sense.
When I first got to this topic of failure in life, one person shot into my mind. Michael Jordan.
I will pay him respect, and assume there is no need of explanation for his achievements. Did you know he couldn’t even make his high school basketball team?
He was told he was not good enough. A little context here can be appreciated. At one point in his life M.J. was told he was worth nothing with a basketball.
He was embarrassed, humiliated, and locked himself in his room to cry for the failure. M.J. is M.J. because he looked at that failure as a mountain and decided he wanted to climb it – to be better.
This golden example might be hyperbolized for everyday life, yet it is analogous to the mountains we have a choice to climb daily.
Failure is evidently crucial if you want to improve in any part of your life. This is not approval to bomb every test you take, because it only leaves room for improvement. It is a guide on how minimize failure for the next test and the next with failing less and less.
So fail often and stop giving fail the symbol of giant red F on that last minute paper. Fail by getting it reviewed two weeks ahead with a lot of small red marks and then a week later with even less red marks and then the big F turns into a big A.