I was recently asked to do a talk for a group at a high school and in thinking about a topic I realized that one thing seemed to stand out more than anything else to me. Failure. Failure seems to be a major part of everybody’s life. Failure is something that no matter how hard we try to avoid it, it will eventually show up in some form or fashion. The big question isn’t really when or even how am I going to fail, but how am I going to handle the failure.
I believe and have said frequently, that to grow stronger you have to work hard. You can’t grow bigger muscles by lifting 1 lb weights. You can’t finish a marathon by training for a 5K. To do more, or become stronger you absolutely must put yourself in a situation that is tougher than you would like. If we go through life doing the easy stuff and only the easy stuff it will be a lot easier for us to not fail at something big. But the end result of that is that it will be nearly impossible for us to do something big.
I don’t want to go through life without doing something big. By big, I don’t mean something that people will remember or that will make me famous. Although if you are looking to grow yourself through struggles becoming famous seems to be a great way to find struggles. I am talking about doing something meaningful. Something to change my life or the life of a person around me. Meaningful is such a greater term that big. Big can be destructive, meaningful is always uplifting.
So if our goal is to do something meaningful with our life is it absolutely necessary to push ourselves to get out of our comfort zone. You need to find ways to challenge yourself mentally and physically. Here is the hard part…you must be prepared to fail at some of those challenges. Not every time you set your mind to accomplish a goal will you actually meet that goal. When you don’t is when you will learn the most about yourself.
Failure is a great motivator and failure is a great communicator. When you fail, get mad and find a renewed energy to go at that goal or a revised goal with even more focus and intensity. If you slow down and analyze what just happened you will frequently see a flaw in your original plan or a lack of execution on your part. This is how failure is a great communicator. Analyzing the failure will tell you a lot about how to readjust. Sometimes it will show you just a small change will give you a completely different outcome. Sometimes it will tell you that you need to go after your goal in a completely different way.
The point is that the failure will point you in the direction you need to be heading. That will only happen though if you give yourself the right to fail and don’t focus on the failure as much as what the failure can tell you. I encourage you to go out and set big goals. Strive to make those goals become victories, but when they don’t learn from your mistake and keep moving forward.