The other day, I was driving along the highway with my son on our way for a hike when a truck passed us by with the slogan, “Failure is not an option.” My first thought was, “How appropriate for a logistics company,” followed by, “that statement feels incomplete.” The way I interpreted it, it seemed to be saying that if you throw enough willpower, money, or resources at a problem, you’ll never fail. It seemed to encapsulate such a masculine energy that it felt aggressive and primitive.
Personally, I want to rephrase that slogan: “Failure is not an option when we choose to learn from our mistakes rather than sitting in defeat.” When we accept failure and admit defeat, we squarely place ourselves in victimhood rather than allowing for a different outcome – the opportunity to feel empowered with the knowledge we’ve gained.
I shared this thought with my son, who told me he didn’t understand why the original quote needed amending. So, I decided to use that moment as a teaching opportunity and explain why it felt important. Failure is going to happen. I wanted him to know that it’s okay to fail. That failure, in and of itself, is not actually a failure if you are learning from the experience. We should embrace failure, not deny it as an option. As a parent, I don’t want him to look at failure as something that we should derive shame from. When we feel shameful, we often have a hard time accepting accountability for our actions and then we learn nothing.
We end up pointing the finger at someone or something else as being responsible for why things didn’t work out the way we anticipated or desired if we are ashamed. Shame is a very uncomfortable feeling so in an effort to avoid the feeling, we displace the blame. It is much harder to review the circumstances that led to the failure, pull the thumb and understand what went wrong and why, and what our role was in the outcome so we can learn from the experience if we feel that failure is something to be ashamed of.
It seemed especially important for me to explain to him as a 3/5 profile in Human Design. As a 3/5, he is here to explore, experiment, and test the boundaries to see what works and what doesn’t and then explain to the rest of us what he’s learned from his experience. If he views his “experiments” as failures, he will never have the self-compassion to learn the lessons he is meant to share with the world. He will be shortcircuiting his innate ability to uncover the wisdom and knowledge he is here to share, thereby limiting his potential.
I impressed upon him that he should never allow the fear of failure to hold him back, that he should fail forward every time. With every failure comes the opportunity to get closer to your next success. It reminded me of the old sales and marketing advice of “Every “No” gets you closer to a “Yes.” Failure is never an option when you use it as a tool to move closer to your goal by learning from your mistakes.
As adults, we may experience failure in many facets of our lives – as parents, in our careers, in our relationships. Having a healthy perspective on failure is so important.
Given the increase in divorce rates in the last couple of years, I would like to reframe relationship “failures” as successes, even if the relationship ends. Every relationship we have ever been in provides the opportunity for us to achieve self-mastery. Through our relationships, we are able to discover another part of ourselves that we have forgotten. Perhaps we found a hidden truth, talent, challenge, perspective, value, limit, boundary, hobby, version of ourselves, etc in the wake of a relationship ending. Whatever it may be, the purpose of being in relationship is to find another piece of yourself, not lose yourself entirely.
Becoming aware of the patterns that you repeat in your “failed” relationships, helps get you closer to disrupting the cycle so that you don’t repeat it the next time. Learning how to heal the baggage from a previous relationship, helps you to not carry it forward. Healing the aspects of your heart and knowing who you are, helps you attract someone who aligns with you, rather than “completes” you, so you can create a healthier, more meaningful relationship.
Healing yourself, helps you strengthen your relationships even the ones that are struggling whether it’s your relationship with your kids, your partner, or your friends and family.
Have you reflected back on your past or current relationships to uncover the lessons you are meant to learn? Have you noticed the patterns that you’ve repeated that no longer work? Have you learned how to disrupt the cycle so you can create, rebuild or attract a deeper, more meaningful relationship with others? What can you change in your current relationship to help it thrive and allow for a more intimate connection?
If you are looking to improve your relationships, then let’s chat! I’m currently putting together a Relationship Reboot program to help women build, attract and redesign their relationships so they are in deeper alignment with their value and worth. If you are interested in this program and would like to share your biggest relationship struggle right now, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can setup a time to chat!
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