What if failure is our best teacher?
The simple answer to ‘How to not fail,’ is to live without trying. To live without venturing into anything new. To live without stepping out of your comfort zone which comes with growth. And when it gets to the point where we depart the earth, we exit sadly with all our limitless untapped potential. Easy right?
A University mate of mine reached out to me on Facebook recently to share my experience as a parent and my opinion on other specific topics relating to his son as a first time parent. My initial confusion was whether to focus on my successes as a parent or talk about the whole picture-both successes and failures (LEARNING POINTS). I settled on the latter and followed up weeks later to find out the apor (suggested solution) was on point! and yielding results for them. I stated somethings I didn’t start early or was not consistently doing with my kids and encouraged them to do so (LEARNING FROM MY MISTAKES).
Failures and messes have unfortunately, become the black sheep of the society, the taboo and the unspoken story. They are the disowned child who only comes to the forefront when society’s better loved child, Success, makes it’s appearance. If success does not make an appearance then failure is left hidden in the dark forever with no hope of ever knowing its potential.
What if failure has been misjudged and underestimated and in the name of meeting society’s expectations and pleasing our never satisfied ego we paid less attention to our failure stories. It is very clear that without failures, successes may not be sustainable.
In 2013 I got my first car, a 2007 Nissan Versa hatchback. More than five years down the line, this car was breaking down and giving me a lot of issues. Frankly, I learnt more about car diagnosis including detecting what was faulty with the sounds I heard coming from it. I learnt about what I could resolve it on my own and when it was time give the mechanic a call (RELY ON EXPERTS TO COMPLEMENT WEAK POINTS). I learnt where to navigate and where not to (IDENTIFICATION OF STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES). On the extreme end, if I had a ‘perfect’ car I would certainly be the best driver but I would lack some car diagnostic skills.
Another comparison, since we are in the football season (Believe it or not I was a footballer back in JHS and SHS and a very good defender too!). Let’s study two strikers, one who always lands the ball at the back of the net and the other whose chances can only be betted with numbers on the left side of the number line. For the ideal striker, the focus would be on what he is doing right which is not entirely wrong BUT we would miss some elements of perfecting the goal scoring skill. What if there were more efficient ways of scoring the goals? Meanwhile on the other end, aside our normal criticisms of the striker who hardly scores, if we were to focus our lens correctly, we would look at what he is doing wrong and explore other alternatives to get him to finally score a goal (LEARNING OPPORTUNITY).
How failure is perceived might be an ego problem, perfectionism challenge or the unrealistic expectations of the society and community who clearly make it a point to leave no room for it. Imagine the possibilities and what we can achieve if we studied failure stories without judgement similar to how we perceive successes?
The fear of failing would be hopefully lost and people would be able to go all out and come back from a lost battle with lessons and experiences to make success more communal, thanks to failure! People would no longer have to say, “Hmmmmmm the day I breakthrough people would know how I suffered and lost.” What if death calls before your breakthrough story? People would also feel free to tell their stories whether they have arrived or not because the possibility of failing is considered to be part of the journey to success. Fear of failing would no longer limit people from going all out. Failure would no longer be seen as a one time pronouncement that you are a loser. As a parent, imagine the endless possibilities for our children if we start training them that failure is part of the journey and teach them the usefulness of assessing the situation to offload in their bag of learning experiences for their future success. The destination matters, but the journey (good and bad) and efforts equally matter.
Hi I am Opie, let me share a few less successful stories with you and hope it gets you going. I can count the number of job rejection mails versus success mails I have received in my entire life. It helped me know what skills recruiters were looking out for and also what I wanted in a company. People pleasing in the past made me not know who I really was. Now I assess my response whether it reflects my values as a child of God or for the sake of scoring points with people. I am a proud work in progress enjoying the journey I am on and you should be proud of yourself too! You are reading this, meaning you are alive and still hopeful which is enough to keep you going.
Share your experiences with failure and let’s lift each other up. #nojudgement
Lots of love,
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