How to Fail

This wasn’t an easy one for me to come to…but here it goes…

I switched careers recently, ‘because I wanted to try something new. It was time. It felt right. I was ready for a change.’

It doesn’t matter how many times I say that, it’s never going to feel right coming out of my mouth.

Because it’s a lie.

I have justified it in my mind, by likening my lie to when people ask how you’re doing. Most don’t want to hear it’s the worst day of your life. They want to hear the good story. So I tell them the good story.

But that’s not the reason I don’t tell the truth. I’m just embarrassed.

I failed. And I quit. On a lifelong dream.

I know some of you aren’t going to agree with this. You are going to question my mettle. You are going to say that I should have kept going. That I am a quitter. That I am a loser for giving up on my dreams.

Don’t worry. I thought all of that about myself, long before you did.

The thing is too, this wasn’t some farfetched dream about walking on the surface of the sun. I was actually living it. With some mild successes, I strung it together for a while.

But the end result was an overall failure…no doubt about it. My dream in life slipped through my tightly clenched hands.

Try sleeping at night with that one. Try getting out of bed after those sleepless nights. Try looking in the mirror on those mornings. Seeing only weakness and failure in your bloodshot eyes.

You want to talk about feeling down? The misery. The wavering confidence. The insecurity. All there. All the time.

What happens when effort and desire and passion don’t translate into success? You fail. And it feels awful. There is no escaping that.

But…this isn’t a sad story.

I realized some things…

If you give everything you have in an effort to succeed at something, and you do not succeed…there is no shame in that.

I think back and there are things I could have done differently. And things I could have done better. All lessons I have taken with me to my new career.

Does this make me a quitter? Does it make me any less a man?

A person who doesn’t ever take risks might say that. Anyone who ever has, will just tip their cap in respect. Because they know as Robert F Kennedy said,  ‘Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.’

Failure doesn’t define you. What defines you is what you do next.

People might say I got lucky ‘falling’ into this next job. I don’t believe in luck. People might say I got a break. I believe you make your own breaks. Or that I failed upwards. I’ve heard that phrase said in a derogatory way, oftentimes by envious people. But they don’t understand…there is something amazing to giving everything you have towards a goal that propels you up, even of you don’t reach it. Even if you don’t succeed. So failing upwards is a compliment in my eyes. It shows you did something worthy of reward. If I saw someone go after something as hard as I did, I’d take a shot on him too.

So failing is a good thing? No. I am not asking you to like failure. I’m telling you to hate it. To hate it so much that you will do anything not to fail. That, in and of itself, will propel you upwards.

But failing is still not easy. You need to be strong to withstand that self doubt. That self-loathing. That misery.

I found strength in something. A way to get out of bed. A reason to take pride in everything I was doing.

Yes my way of the samurai is weird. No it’s not for everyone. But there is a way for everyone. If you’re down, if you feel like you’re out, if you just failed and failed miserably…you just need to find your way.

If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. It’s there. Every end is a beginning.

I am formulating new dreams right now. They are not totally clear yet. But they will come. Yours will too.

Give as much energy towards your new beginning as you did that end. That is how you should fail.