Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Accepting Failure As A Part of Success

       As odd as it may sound, I've learned to love mistakes and failures. Admittedly, I may not be overjoyed at first, however, when I remind myself of what a mistake or a failure actually mean and what they do for me, I am quickly back on track, more determined than ever. The reason is simple. Throughout my life, I have failed far more than I have succeeded. Anytime I have gone about learning a new skill, mastering a new technique, or began a new course of action there have always been the inevitable mistakes. How could there not be? No one starts anything new and instantly becomes a master. I like to remind myself that all masters were once beginners.

       The other reason I've come to love mistakes and failures is I learn a great deal from them. When I succeed, which of course I love to do, I learn very little. I learn that whatever I was doing was correct, and that's that. When I make a mistake or utterly fail at something, however, my possibilities are opened up, and I can take off in completely different directions. When I decided to regain my physical health, for example, I tried so many different types of exercise; I lost count. If anyone had told me, I would end up loving running, hiking and rock climbing I would have said they were crazy. Through many failed attempts at other forms of exercise, eventually, I did land on those and fell in love. It took all those mistakes, all those failed attempts at other forms of exercise, to find what I loved. Thank goodness I stunk at the other things I tried, or I would have never found my true joys!

       Not only do mistakes and failures allow me to change course directions and find my true callings, they push me to be better at them once I've found them. If I'm not occasionally failing, becoming slightly overwhelmed or experiencing a few setbacks from miscalculation, then I'm not trying hard enough. An excellent example of how this belief demonstrates itself in my life is when I go sailing. People who go sailing with me know they had better hold on tight, because if I didn't tip the boat at least once during the season, I would be disappointed in myself. I wouldn't have been sailing; I would have been sightseeing. There is nothing wrong with sightseeing, but that is not my priority. My priority is to have fun and be the best sailor I can be. As Arianna Huffington said, "Failure is not the opposite of success; it is a part of success." The following clip is part of a commencement address Denzel Washington gave. It addresses this philosophy beautifully.

       So when the inevitable mistakes and failures come in my life, I try my best to realize that they are nothing more than learning experiences that will, in all likelihood, lead me to a better place than I had been trying to get to previously. My greatest periods of growth have come during my darkest hours. It took a long time to say this, but I'm grateful for them now. I love the way Maya Angelou put it when she said, "You may encounter many defeats, but you must never be defeated."

       I'm not saying this is easy. I'm certainly not saying that it doesn't take practice, but once I realized this is the way life is, and accepted it, the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders. I am NOT defined by my mistakes but by what I do about them. Mistakes, failures, and missteps are a part of life. It's how I handle them determines everything.

       This is a fun clip from one of our family's favorite Disney movies, Meet the Robinsons. It's a fantastic reminder that failures are nothing to be ashamed of and are merely part of the process. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

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       As always, I wish you wonderful mental health and great successes eating healthy meals. If you, or someone you love, is severely depressed or anxious, please click this link and you will be directed to the International Association for Suicide Prevention. It is a fantastic resource and is staffed by wonderful people.
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