The biggest gift we receive in life is not, first, success.
It is failure.
Failure is the cruelest disciplinarian. Failure always shows us our weaknesses. With merciless honesty and precision it lays us bare for the world to see. It can feel like failure is our nemesis, mocking our attempts at becoming someone of worth.
Failure will constantly barrage us with the truth that shortcuts and half-attempts won’t cut it. Failure will tell us we must be all in or we might as well go home. Failure indicates to us how hard we must work. That this isn’t going to be easy. It constantly nags at us and beckons us to remember anything that we cherish and value comes at an unbelievably immense cost.
It will cost us our pride. It will require our vulnerability. It will crush our false expectations. It demolishes our time table. It depends upon complete honesty with ourselves, first and foremost. It demands our attention, time, and sacrifice. It stipulates that we be ready to build thick skin, and at the same time, not to lose our tender soul that is still passionate and moved by triumph.
We must not allow failure to make us cold, bitter, and cynical. Failure is the fire that burns, scars, and refines the bits and pieces that need to be torn away into ash to reveal the gold, the parts of substance and quality. Those battle scars become badges to wear with honor, as long as we humbly embrace all the lessons they teach.
And don’t be fooled. Failure will teach us we are not without flaws. Those flaws are like buoys, a life raft, that keep us afloat in a sea that we are constantly drifting in. When we stop fighting failure, those flaws become strengths. If we chose to stop fighting our failures and hiding them away, perfection is no longer a requirement. The mask can be thrown to the ground.
Flaws that are magnified by failure give us a compass pointing directly to hidden treasure. Like a big X on a treasure map, failure points to our flaw and says, “Dig here, pull it up, use what is buried underneath.” Flaws can help us face our fears, get up from the place we have fallen, or wandered to, and try again. Flaws keep us from arrogance, and hopefully we allow the failures to teach us which paths are dangerous and fruitless, and which paths are meant to be cleared and advanced. Failing teaches us to fight, battle, and pursue what we’re meant for, for what we believe in most deeply. Failures give us information no one else can give us. They are personal messages directly piercing our bruised and battered hearts.
Failure, like a rejection letter branded into our psyche, bolsters our foundation. They soon become an ongoing list of valuable, priceless lessons that shape and define who we are becoming, and where we are going. Only you have your failures, your personal lessons. No one else owns those. They are all yours, and so, you are the only one who takes those unique set of failures and turn them over into something remarkable. Hang onto them, use them, grow out from the ashes of them and thrive.
Failing communicates to us, over and over again, that it’s not our circumstances that describe who we are. It’s our attitude, our mindset.
Life is not a shortcut. Failure cultivates us, sometimes painfully, developing patience, endurance, and character. We are like growing trees, being pruned to produce better fruit, more radiant flowers. It is part of a long, hard, and often disheartening journey called Life. No matter how much we wish it weren’t so, failures are mixed with the good, the joyful things in life, all wound tightly, intricately together. We cannot separate them; we must learn to take both the joyful and the painful as one magnificent inheritance. A bittersweet reminder that what we cherish is only sweet after tasting the bitter sting. Without the harsh failure, we cannot emerge with contrasting consummation.
If we do not embrace the painful failures and trials, we will never touch the sweetness of triumph.
Failure takes us to the ground, to our knees, flat on our faces in the grime and dirt. There are times when we must sit low and take it in, letting it wash over us so we can recieve the lesson it is demanding we learn. We may need to step back, take a break, stop the cycle of burnout. But then, we get up, we wear that failure like a badge of honor….I went through this trial, and it made me better.
Failure is our teacher. Embrace your professor in life, the failures. Learn from them. Work through them patiently. Endure. Persist. They will help you see your goals, your ambitions, more clearly. Your perspective will shift. Soon, you will welcome them because you’ll know the failures you encounter in the future will mobilize you.
Failures magnify our flaws. Flaws are the golden strength waiting to be excavated. A firm, fixed foundation is being laid. These, my friends, are gifts.