Do you know what yesterday was? National Failures Day. The idea of celebrating failures tickles me because it’s the essence of this life: trying and failing, again and again, until success. Nothing worth doing meets with success the first time out of the gate.
This reminds me of an LDS General Conference talk in April by Elder Lynn G. Robbins. In it, he describes a college professor that gave students as many tests as it took for them to get a grade they wanted. There was no limit; as long as the student was willing, this professor was willing as well to keep making up new tests. And why? Because he “wanted to be on the same side as the students.” How awesome is that?
“He was an uncommonly wise professor who inspired his students to keep trying—to consider failure as a tutor, not as a tragedy, and to not fear failure but to learn from it.”
It’s all about the learning and growing. Failure doesn’t define us, it’s just the beginning of something better. As long as we learn from it. There’s always a lesson in failure; just look for it.
The Importance of Failure:
Failure is one of the greatest teachers.
- It shows our weaknesses. When you know where you’re weak, you know what to improve. Make those weaknesses strengths.
- It shows our strengths. Sometimes you just need to know what your good at to create a plan for success. When I was busy rebuilding my sleep habits, I found out that I’m very good at making goals and sticking with them. Because of that strength, I knew that if I stuck to my plan long enough, I’d see results.
- It keeps us motivated. If you’re like me, you find a failure an insult, so you try even harder to succeed. That’s the thing about humans; generally we don’t like to be told we can’t do something.
- It helps us change. There are those who say that people don’t change. That’s ridiculous. We can change and do so regularly. Failure helps us to find out how to change. If you’re always happy—if you’ve never failed in getting out of bed or doing something constructive due to depression—you wouldn’t work for something better. You wouldn’t try to improve your habits and your atmosphere and your relationships in an effort to improve your happiness. Without that failure of some chemical reactions in the brain (or whatever else might cause depression), you wouldn’t be trying to improve yourself. So it sucks, but there are benefits.
- It makes us stronger. On one level, failure helps you be less sensitive about your failings; you’re familiar with trying and not always succeeding. You become inoculated, to some extent, to the shame and embarrassment of falling. On another level, it builds your mental and emotional reserves. Being depressed has made me strong. I wouldn’t give up some of those hardest years of my youth for anything, because through them I’ve seen the fire and spirit in my soul.
- It teaches us to never give up. Ever. Because true failure is giving up. Everything else is just a step to success.
- It makes us more empathetic. Knowing we fail often (and sometimes spectacularly) makes us more forgiving and understanding of others’ failures.
- It teaches us. It teaches us so much about life and living.
- It’s the only way to success. There’s no success without failure. In fact, if there’s no failure, is there any success? You need both the good and the bad.
Failing may be hard and painful. It’s hard to be depressed, to try for happiness with all your might and find that it’s not enough due to no fault of your own. But the trying gives you something to work for, and through it you’ll find yourself changing and becoming better, becoming more empathetic. You’ll find your definition of happiness change from that of an ephemeral feeling completely dependent on circumstance to that of a state of mind you can choose by living well and serving others.