Picture yourself in school. You are walking through the door of your last class of the day, your backpack is starting to feel overly heavy, and there is a grumble in your stomach. As you think about what you are going to eat for dinner you absent mindedly sit in the closest seat to the door. You want to be the first student out of there when the class ends. As the rest of your classmates trickle in you notice that their demeanor is not unlike yours. You all just want to be done for the day.
The instructor gets out of their chair and approaches the front of the class. They have the class roster in their hand. After sitting through multiple roll calls that day, you know exactly where your last name will be on that attendance sheet. Then something unexpected happens. As the instructor begins to speak they place the class list on the table in front of them and say;
“Raise your hand if you are a failure.”
For a second you pause, unsure if you heard them properly. Then you begin to look around the room to see what the rest of the class is doing. A few hands go up right away, then sheepishly, more people begin to raise their hands. Your brain decides that there is safety in numbers, and you raise your hand along side them.
During that split second that you didn’t know what to do, you experienced fear. Fear of looking stupid, fear of admitting past wrong doings, or fear of feeling ashamed. That same feeling is what can lock us into complacency. It is what keeps people from achieving their dreams. In some cases, its fear that keeps people from dreaming in the first place.
Many people are outright afraid of failure. This arises from a basic need to have control. Failure is chaotic, its messy, and its unpredictable. In its basic form, failure is out of control. Many people back away from the chaotic nature of failure, because it makes their lives much more difficult. Many people get a taste of failure early in life, and they run from it. They live a majority of the rest of their lives in a comfort zone, where failure is something that happens to other people, but not them. Or so they think.
Failure is something that has happened to every single person who has ever lived, and will happen to anyone who ever will live. The people who have found a comfort zone still experience failure, but they allow it. They allow small failures in life by setting themselves up for failure. They don’t take risks, and if they do take a risk, they never really put any stock in it working out in their favor.
We all fail, so what is the alternative? So often, success is viewed as the opposite of failure. This couldn’t be more wrong. Failure can exist in our lives without success, but success can not exist without failure. No matter if it’s a failed relationship, education, business, or anything else, what is learned from failing shapes our future successes. It might be the case where you must fail over and over and over again, but when the successes of our lives begin to take shape, how grateful will we be for our past failures.
We can’t avoid failure in our lives. It is going to happen and there is no way around it. We do have a choice to bring success into the mix. Although success is different for everyone, we all know success when we feel it. When the instructor asks you to raise your hand if you are a failure, everyone’s hand should be up. There are the people who raised their hands first, the people whose courage gave you the strength to raise your hand after you hesitated. Those are the people you should sit next to during next class. That is the kind of person we should all strive to be. The kind of person who admits that they have faults, and understands that not everything goes perfectly every time. They know that failing is extremely difficult, and will constantly test their willpower. Yet they push through failure because they can see the light at the end of the tunnel that is accomplishment. Those people who are least afraid of failing, are the same people who are most likely to succeed.
– E.G. Scholl