Ever wondered why there are so many cliches about failure? We’re not really sure, but we think there are many because of its universality. It is an experience that everyone eventually goes through, and, just like other feelings that have negative connotations to people, failure has become something that we dread and feel embarrassed about. We are averse to it because it is difficult to admit.
We think of failure as a shame, a fall from grace, and sometimes, even as a sign that we are not enough or capable of getting to our goals. We rarely talk about it because it is a painful experience that we would rather move on from through forgetting. However, what we do not realize is that failures are actually important to the human experience. It may sound like another cliche, but failures are natural, and they are part of the process. If you find this hard to believe, here is a list of four reasons why failures are necessary for life:
1. It gives you clarity
Failures are necessary because they tend to answer our “Can I or can’t I?” questions. The bitter pill to swallow: sometimes, the answer is “I cannot.” But that’s okay. Failures teach us that we are not ready yet. It tells you that, at this time, your skills are not enough, your tools are incomplete, and the odds are against you.
Sure. Failures are painful. However, sometimes, the alternative is wasted time because you keep on working on something that you are incapable of doing yet. So look at failures as moments of clarity—a chance to assess yourself and your performance and a time to be realistic about what you are doing. It may be difficult to accept, but sometimes, the best option is to quit for now and try again when we’re ready.
2. It gives you a chance to change gears.
Once you get to the point of clarity, you will have the energy to take a hard look at the decisions that led to your fall. Maybe you did not succeed this time because you made a wrong choice along the way, and that’s alright. Reflect on everything, and then list down the things that you would do differently when you try the next time again. By doing this, you are giving yourself a chance to change gears and a better chance of succeeding the next time.
3. It makes you stronger.
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is such a strong cliche that there was a song written about it. It’s a cliche because it holds truth. Failures are very difficult to survive, but it slowly strengthens you. It builds your character by teaching you how to bounce back and how to do things correctly the next time. It’s a very disappointing feeling, but a satisfaction arises later—once you have learned the lesson that it is teaching you.
There is an admirable strength in people who fail and try again. When you stand up from a fall gracefully, you exude courage. It shows people that you are ready to return to doing something that you failed at before, knowing that there is a probability that you might fail again. Trying, and failing, and trying, and failing, is a cycle that builds a resistance to the ache that comes with failure.
4. It brings you closer to success.
Here is one of the world’s greatest ironies: Failures lead to success. One humbling moment after another leads us to our goal if we learn from them. After gaining clarity, having a chance to shift gears, and learning from our previous mistakes, we narrow the gap between us trying and us succeeding. You know that this is the truth because some of the greatest success stories in the world involve huge failures.
Stephen King, Bill Gates, Jack Ma, and Oprah Winfrey all faced failures. King failed to get Carrie published, Bill Gates failed to program a good enough machine, Jack Ma failed to get a job at KFC, and Oprah failed to secure a job as a journalist. What changed, then? They kept trying. They failed hard, then tried harder the next time. Today, everyone knows that they are some of the biggest names in Literature, Tech, Entrepreneurship, and Media. The lesson is, it doesn’t matter how many times or how hard you fail. You only have to get it right once, and you’re on the way to success.
At the end of the day, they are necessary no matter how averse we are to failures. Failing is an underrated skill that teaches us a lot of things about ourselves and about life itself. It may be painful to experience, but changing our approach to failures is actually the key to growth. It unlocks the better versions of ourselves who are better prepared for our dream success.