A while back I wrote a piece here about failure. While I like what I said about adapting and having guts and going beyond the limits we tend to set for ourselves, I really think I missed a biggy.
See, everything I talked about really has more to do with pre-failure. All those things are about putting yourself out there, and you might fail. But what I missed is what happens when you fail—or, technically, when you fail by everyone else’s standards.
That’s the problem, failure, by its very nature, is a box that we put ourselves in because of a set of standards that the world has created. For example, I had a website a while back and running it cost me more money than I generated in revenue. The world would say that’s a failure. I said that, too. I felt that.
But was it?
Did I learn anything from it that I can use in my next venture? Did I meet anyone that is a new friend, resource, connection, mentor? Did I stretch myself in a way that I hadn’t before? Did I grow? Was there any takeaway from that experience? Yes. Yes, to every single one.
But, did I even bother to ask any of these questions? Nope. Nada. Not even once.
See, the real failure isn’t that I ran a bum website that didn’t do what I had envisioned it to do (both in volume and functionality). The real failure is I let that disappoint me and embarrass me. The real failure is that I failed to review, reevaluate and redesign—
Failure is a real thing. But the box that society or our friends or the even the bank puts us in is not really failure. The only thing we can fail at is failing to see how we’ve grown and letting it keep us from choosing to grow some more.