“He said: failing is not just for failures
It’s for everyone, failures just have more experience”
This is one of my favorite lyrics from a song “Failing Is Not Just For Failures” by a band Listener. I always admired this line, but as I’ve thought about it, there’s only one group of people that truly have more experience than failures: successful people.
I can’t think of a better illustration of this idea than the quest of every toddler learning how to transition from crawling to walking. There are countless failed attempts, one after another, and countless more and the small breakthrough of a couple steps. It’s many more tumbles and falls before they are hobbling towards their parents with no assistance. Then walking becomes perfected over years and years of repetition and practice to the point that we do it now without a second thought.
What amazes me is that at no point during that process of early childhood development does any child say “I gave this 100 tries and I’m still crawling, maybe I wasn’t supposed to walk…I’m done.” They don’t keep track, they don’t dwell on the most recent failure. They just keep going from attempt to attempt. They become failure experts. They amass an overwhelming degree of experience in failure. Their expertise and experience in failure qualifies them for success simply because they were patient enough and tenacious enough to find all the ways that didn’t work.
Many of us don’t remember what it was like to try, struggle, fail, and fail again attempting to walk. It’s only through conscious deliberate thought as well as examining others who are in that stage that we even think about what that struggle must have been like and see how resilient that we actually are. The only problem is that lesson whispers in a culture that is incessantly screaming about results. We have placed an incredible amount of attention and celebration on successful results giving little consideration to the process and failures that lead there. We have become so disproportionately obsessed with results that many believe that success is the product of greatness that one is born with (or without) rather than the outcome of the process of failing repeatedly, trusting the process, working hard, and staying patient.
There’s little room for concepts like “process” and “development” in our “instant on demand world.” Everything is so accessible and disposable that 5–7 days for a package to be delivered on Amazon is unthinkable, and 6 minutes for Chick-Fil-A is just about enough time to ask if there’s a problem with our order. Most every song, movie is available for purchase and download right to a mobile device that we can consume instantly. We hate to wait. This hatred has created a reality in which we can’t conceptualize something taking an insanely long time. The prevalent concept in this reality is “If I’m not great after the first couple of tries, I wasn’t meant to be.”
We’ve created this gigantic canyon between us and the people we admire and aspire to be. The greatest illusion is that there is no difference between us and the Eddisons, Fords, Wrights, Jordans, Jobs, Westbrooks, Zuckerbergs, and the others we aspire to be like. It’s foolish to discount the talent of those aforementioned, but it’s equally as foolish to discount work ethic, and the process that leads to greatness in the name of talent. Each encountered many failures and disappointments that proved to be incredibly discouraging, however the one thing that ties them together is their persistence through those failures and disappointments that eventually produced the greatness we now admire.
I’ve decided that as an artist, I’m going to write, record and publish at least 100 songs before I even consider hanging it up. Currently, I have 18 songs that have made it from note pad to Spotify. Out of those a probably 5 or 6 have been really well received, and even one allowed me the opportunity to work with Youtube. While all of this is great, I’m still short of where I want to be as an artist, and I believe its because I haven’t failed enough. I believe that if you aren’t where you want to be, in any area of your life, it’s perhaps because you haven’t failed enough. When you master failure, greatness isn’t far behind.