I will tell you that there have been no failures in my life.
I don’t want to sound like some metaphysical queen,
but there have been no failures.
There have been some tremendous lessons.-Oprah Winfrey
I have this image in my mind of someone who has always been hard on him or herself for failure reaching heaven at the end of life. “What am I doing here?” this person might ask St. Peter. “I shouldn’t be here–my life was filled with failure after failure.”
St. Peter shrugs. “So what?” he asks.
And that’s it. The whole story. Because I think that says it all–so what? We aren’t here on this planet to be perfect, and failure is an inherent part of each one of us. So what?
Oprah’s perspective is fairly common and quite refreshing. Thinking about “failure” is just a way for us to keep ourselves down, to keep ourselves from reaching our potential and focusing on the possible. When we see the results of our actions as learning rather than success or failure, then we’re casting off the old way of looking at things that has done very little to help people grow.
We must embrace a new way of seeing the world and our selves if we’re to get the most out of the many valuable and beautiful lessons that life gives to us. Success and failure are old paradigms that serve almost no one except those who already are in power, and it helps them only to hold on to their power when they can assign such a label to what we’ve done.
Learn from your experiences–don’t label them.
Questions to ponder:
1. Why is it that one person’s “failure” can be another’s “success”?
2. Who has helped us to define what’s success and what’s failure?
3. Have you ever done anything that truly was worth doing well, and done it completely right on the very first try?
For further thought:
You need the ability to fail. I’m amazed at the number of organizations that set up an environment where they do not permit their people to be wrong. You cannot innovate unless you are willing to accept some mistakes. -Charles Knight