What do we mean by Success – Blog 16: Your Failures?

Failure is something that we all face at one point or another in our lives and provides us with the opportunity to learn about where we went wrong, to ensure that we improve or learn a particular thing for the future. As we grow older, our concept over what the word “failure” changes, but can we use our failures as a measure of how successful or not we are in life? That’s what we’ll be looking at in today’s “What do we mean by Success?” blog!

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

Today’s blog is the sixteenth blog in the “What do we mean by Success?” series and is all going to be about our failures, and if they can be used to help determine the success that we have in life. The word “failure” is often associated with a bad thing, a mistake, something that goes wrong, so if that’s the case, how can we ever think to use it as a measure of one’s success? Failure follows a similar pattern to success, in that it means something different to each person, which adds a further layer of complexity to the question at hand in today’s blog.

The Oxford Dictionary define failure in a number of different ways, such as failure is a “lack of success” & failure is “an unsuccessful person or thing”, however, I do not think that we should this negative light on the term “failure”. The definition that I have always loved for the term failure is that failure is a bend on the road to success. We can see the clear difference and mindset change here between the two definitions of what failure is, which can then go on to dramatically alter the way that we approach and discuss failure in our day to day life.

If we focus on the negative connotation of what failure is, then eventually we are going to see failure as a really bad thing and will actively try and avoid it. While avoiding failure at face value may seem like a good thing to try and do, what can then start to happen is the decision not to take any risks, due to the fear of being unsuccessful, or in other words, failing. It’s a cycle that people don’t often think about, or notice, until they are actually in it, and that is what makes it so interesting to me.

If we are too scared to try anything new, in fear of failing, then all that we are doing as a whole is limiting our potential for success in whatever it is that we are avoiding. If we don’t attempt or try something, then how can we ever see if we are good at it or not? How do we learn and grow more from the experience? By creating a fear of failure in our minds, all we are doing is preventing ourselves from potentially being successful in something new, aren’t we?

There’s an old saying that goes “with failure comes success” and it is one that I really like. I feel like it perfectly sums up a positive, driven attitude to life, where we try new things if they fail then we learn from them and try again, until we are successful. Viewing failure as a positive thing, a learning point then, can help us learn what risks to take & avoid, how to build our resilience and how to value success as a whole. At the end of the day, there is no success without failure, so in saying that, can failure ever be a bad thing?

When it comes to failure and success, I do not think there is a way to compare someone’s failings and successes compared to another person, but at the end of the day, why should we have to compare ourselves to others? Would it be a simple matter of looking at the number of times you have failed versus the number of times you have been successful and then comparing that to another? Quite a lot of people look at success as a term that can be used for comparison purposes, but I don’t think that we should.

If we break it down to the fact that success means something different to each person, as well as the fact that there are different types of success, how would a comparison ever be a fair thing to do? Could you compare somebody’s personal success to their career success? Personally I do not see any just or fair way of actually making the comparison between the two, it just seems simply illogical, to me at least.

If we look at the failures that we face in life as lessons that we can learn from, then surely they can be used as a measure of how successful we are, right? As now we would be using failures as almost like different milestones in a project on the pathway to success. Simply by flipping the definition of a word from a negative connotation to a positive one, can you see the difference it makes?

When I was first thinking of making this series, it was originally going to be called “What do we mean by Failure?”, but after some time debating it I decided to go with “What do we mean by Success?” If I did go with the failure option, I still could have done nearly all of the blogs that I have done in this series, but just from a different viewpoint. That may seem like a weird coincidence or like it wouldn’t work at first, but it goes back to the saying “with success there is failure” or in other words “with failure comes success.”

Let failure guide you on the pathway to success!

What do you think? Do you think we can use our failings in life as a measure of how successful we are, or not? What does success mean to you? What does failure mean to you? Are you still enjoying the “What do we mean by Success?” series? What sorts of blogs and topics would you like to see me cover? Let me know your answers and thoughts to the above question, either in the comments below or through our Facebook page!

That’s all I want to talk about in today’s blog! Thank you all for reading and I hope you have an amazing day & week!

Sweeney’s Blogs

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James Sweeney

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