Thought of the day: Failure

August 30, 2016 | 0 Comments | Life, Thought of the day

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Don’t try. Just do.


Will you fail? Probably. Does it matter? Most definitely.

“Try” implies failure, and if you stop, you will be. However if instead of giving up you keep going, all of the sudden you haven’t failed, you’ve learned a lesson. Don’t fear failure. Embrace failure. Plan for it. Revel in it. Learn from it. Adjust for it. With each failure you are that much more experienced and that much closer to your goal.

View failure as a noun. A tool. The most skilled, talented and successful people fail every day. The only difference between you and them is how they choose to use it.

If we succeed immediately, have we learned anything? Grown? Improved? If you are the best at something, where will you go from there? What joy will it bring you? What goals will you have? If the answer to those questions is related to lording over those weaker than you or simply reigning as “the best,” beware. Eventually someone will come along and rob your throne, and if your self-worth or self-esteem was tied into being the best, you are in for a very dark spiral into hell on earth.

Self-esteem comes from yourself, meaning if no one was around to see a deed, you would feel the same way about yourself as if there were a stadium full of witnesses. Esteem influenced by others is called other-esteem, and is something we can’t control. Since we can’t control it, we shouldn’t rely on it. Take the opinion of others as suggestions, not truth.

Some people are wise and have your best interest at heart. Others (like most teenagers, especially teenage bullies) are unsure of themselves and strive to make themselves feel better about themselves by demeaning those around them. They think it makes themselves look better by contrast, but what it’s really doing is prolonging their secret pain. They don’t have your best interest at heart. Others don’t care either way if you improve or not, they just have an opinion that differs from yours, like if ketchup is yummy or disgusting (spoiler: it’s gross). Will you stop eating ketchup because I don’t like it? So why stop feeling good about yourself if someone sees you fail?

The most powerful tool available to you is not caring.

Not caring if you are seen in a less-than-perfect light, that is. Or not caring if things don’t go perfectly as planned. I had a profound revelation about DJing while at a Carl Cox show in the late 90s. Carl Cox—one of the world’s premier techno DJs and one of my own personal heroes—was playing to a sold-out crowd at the Paramount Theater in Seattle. His set was flawless… up until the point where he train wrecked so bad he stopped the music entirely. The crowd was shocked and fell into uneasy silence. Carl on the other hand was laughing, a huge smile on his face. He looked at the crowd, grinning ear-to-ear, and threw both his fists into the air, face tilted toward the sky. We all erupted in applause and cheered enthusiastically, at which time he turned the record back on and finished the rest of the show without so much as a hiccup.

My understanding of self fundamentally changed that day; a moment so intensely moving that, as I recall this moment, I am losing a battle to fight back tears. It doesn’t matter if you fail. What matters is how you react to failure. The fact of the matter is, we all fail. It’s an inescapable part of living, and at it’s core is neither negative or positive. You are the one who assigns polarity. You are the one who decides how the moment will be viewed, just like pro and amateur DJs have the power to control how an audience reacts to their mistakes. Do you shrink away, pretend it never happened or express dissatisfaction like an amateur? Or do you own it, laugh and celebrate it like the pros?

I’ll leave this essay with a simple question for consideration. Does your esteem come from within or from outside yourself? Meaning, are there people in your life who posses ownership of your emotions or self-worth? If so, take them back. You can’t control them, so why allow them to control you? Why allow them to control how you feel about yourself? There is a big difference between respecting someone’s opinion and letting someone’s opinion dictate your self-worth. When we are able to realize this, accept ourselves and embrace our failures, we transform into beacons of light to those who encounter us. We tap into the best, happiest and most loved instance of self and become someone people flock to and admire. And if we are tapped into our true selves, we become worth of that admiration.


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