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How to fail

They’ve put a spin on it. Made it sound like a good thing. You learn so much more from your failure than from your success. It’s what rubs off any hint of arrogant corners, makes you compassionate to others and strengthens your resolve. It teaches you resilience, the art of never giving up. It shows you what won’t work, what’s not right for you at the moment.

It also hurts like hell.

When talking about how productive our failure is (and it really is) we mustn’t overlook this. It hurts.

Not just superficial pain, but the kind of pain that burrows down inside us, wiggling its scratchy little paws through our naïve layers of soft unprotected hope.

It hurts our hearts and it hurts our pride. It hurts because there will always be someone out there who is a little bit delighted you have failed. Sometimes blatantly so.

Acknowledge that for a moment. Feel the pain. Sob a little.

But then listen to the wisdom, to all the good things it can teach you. Because they are right. It can be a good thing – not only because of the life lessons it gives you but also because of the way it spares you from doing the wrong thing. That job you didn’t get that actually would have made you miserable. That relationship that didn’t work out which possibly, when you look back, was destroying parts of you as you tried to mould yourself into an acceptable shape for it. The ‘perfect’ house that fell through that might have turned into a money pit. That course you crashed out of which may have led you away from your true vocation.

The problem is though, while it’s happening, you cannot see this. You see only the lost positives, not the narrowly missed negatives. Sometimes you don’t see for a long time. Sometimes never.

But at some point in the future, your failure will guide you home. Maybe not to the ‘home’ you had in mind. Usually a better one. The one that’s right for you.


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