Funny Thing About Failure

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I smile when I read or hear people talk about failure.  To me, failure, or success for that matter, is a made up word.

I read an article about being able to demonstrate during an interview about where you’ve failed at attempting something and the wisdom you learned from it.  It’s all about the wisdom.So I imagined myself being in that interview and looking back at all I’ve done.  Where have I failed?  I looked at my working career and thought, hmm, there was nothing much there where I could say, “yeah I really really attempted that… and I failed!”  Was it because I wasn’t adventurous enough in my career?  No, I knew exactly why I went for those roles and stayed in those roles.  Then I looked at my personal life.  Oh yeah, maybe I could draw a lot of content there, that part of my life was very dynamic, I was focusing my adventures on my personal relationships instead of “advancing” my career.  Hmm, maybe I could have some examples there…?  But…

For the life of me I still couldn’t pinpoint a particular area where I’ve failed either in my working life or in my personal and social life.  Then it came to me…  It’s because when I was choosing my roles to go for in my working life, and when I was going for the relationships I went for in my personal life, or when I was choosing the activities I participated in, I wasn’t choosing the roles and the relationships and the activities with the view of succeeding in them.  Neither did I choose them with the view of failing them.

I chose them purely for the sake of experiencing them.

You see, when I choose to do something, or participate in something, I don’t choose it based on the possibility or probability of me making a success of it.  I make my choices based on the question, IS IT FUN?  My definition of fun is answered by the following questions:

  • Am I going to discover something new with it?
  • Is it gonna stretch me, push me, get me out of my comfort zone?
  • Am I going to get a kick out of it?

So I go through it and go through the experience.  And if you were to ask me, did I “succeed” in any of my endeavours?  I would say, absolutely!  I succeeded in the projects that I didn’t complete, I succeeded in projects that didn’t work out and was deemed “crap” by my colleagues, I succeeded in my personal relationships that were stressful and hurtful, I succeeded in my relationships that didn’t turn into an official contracted “marriage and/or didn’t last long, and so on.

Yes, I absolutely succeeded in everything I did 100%.  You know why?  Because “success” to me means answering those three questions as I went through the experiences.  It’s also not enough that I’ve answered those questions.  I also ask myself, have I done the best that I can in this situation?  ‘Best’ to me means… Have I squeezed the hell and all the juices out of that experience?  Can I honestly say that I’ve consumed it, breathed it, lived it, swam in it, turned my innards out for the experience of it?  Have I discovered and learned more about me as I went through it?  Have I discovered and learned more about my environment as I went through the experience?  And if the answer is YES! then I’ve succeeded and on I move to another adventure.

You see, to me, there is no such thing as success or failure.  It’s all relative and subjective depending on who’s looking at it.  Somebody’s failure could be viewed by others as a success and vice versa.

So if I’m asked at an interview of my failures and successes I would probably make something up, to satisfy the interviewer’s standard definition of what success and failure is.  Or maybe not.

Success is when you feel you have done what your heart longed to do, when you have expressed who you are in all your facets and beautiful/ugly beingness and creativity, when you have lived and I mean really LIVED and sucked everything that you can out of life… When I can say to myself, yes, I have done the best I absolutely can within my physical, mental, and emotional capacity… that to me is success.

Failure is when I’m a 100 watt light bulb and I live my life operating at 20 watts.

But this is my definition of success and failure.  It doesn’t have to be your definition.

© 2015 Nina Barcenilla, All Rights Reserved

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