More often than not our successes are propelled by our failures. Yes, you read that right. Failing leads us forward, it doesn’t pull us backward.
Sure, there may be a minor, temporary setback. This often serves as a time for reflection, grappling with hard truths and then, once we arrive at acceptance, a time of regrouping and planning on how to go forward.
There are many inspiring stories of failure and the resulting successes. You may be familiar with the well-known and long-running musical production ‘’Jesus Christ Superstar.’’ In fact, it opened on Broadway 50 years ago this year.
This iconic musical was created by Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice when they were in their 20’s. Both men say their idea was rejected by every theatre producer they approached, so they convinced their record company to release the musical as an album.
Can you imagine if they let the failure of being rejected stop them?
I too have found failure to be far more motivating than success. Personally, I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes a few years back. This was a shock to me and felt like a huge setback.
Three years later I can say this was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I completely changed my eating habits with the help of a nutritionist. I started walking, then hiking, then backpacking. I took up yoga and even became a certified canoe instructor.
I’m healthier and happier… all because of a set-back.
It turns out this concept of failure as a tool to find success has the wisdom of the ages behind it. Saint Teresa of Avila said “to reach something good it is very useful to have gone astray, and thus acquire experience.’’
It’s counterintuitive to embrace failure. But that is exactly what we must do. In the creative process, in the learning process, in life. Our natural instinct is to protect ourselves and especially our children from failure. But this is misplaced.
Failure is necessary for growth. Even looking to nature and the cycles of the seasons. We have spring and summer where we witness wild and astounding growth and expansion. But these seasons are impossible without fall and winter where there is a pruning of that which isn’t useful or is no longer needed. This season can be so profoundly bleak and jarring. But it’s necessary to spur the growth that awaits us on the other side.
This also applies to this topsy-turvy time we find ourselves in as well. This is undeniably a season of change in many ways. Each day we experience heartbreaking, profound loss in many areas and on many levels. It’s hard, it’s painful and ultimately it will lead to growth.
I can’t say how and I can’t say when, but I know failure and loss are the paths to personal and collective success and growth. It helps me to remember this time is a season and the next season is coming. We will grow, we will bloom, we will flourish. Because our failures propel us to success.