You are not a failure for trying

It seems that at the end of every year we tend to look at what we consider our failures and make resolutions to do better in the New Year. We have got ourselves caught in a performance trap, we have believed a lie. “I must meet certain standards to feel good about myself”. Because of past failures to meet our expectations of ourselves, or those others have burdened us with, we label ourselves as a failure. Fearing more failure we often stop trying or we take the other extreme and become almost addicted to our day timers. Goal accomplishment and using our time efficiently becomes an intolerable burden, with always the fear of failing dogging our rush through life.

Fear of failure can effect us in many ways. We tend to fall into perfectionism, which is basically a barricade we put up to prevent us failing, but perfectionism tends to suffocate creativity and stifles the joy of living. Perfectionists can appear to others to have it all together, but really their compulsion comes for a desperate desire to avoid the low self-esteem they experience when they fail.

Some people who tasted failure persisted and ultimately succeeded. Walt Disney faced financial disaster several times and had a nervous breakdown before he succeeded. Enrico Caruso, one of the world’s greatest tenors, was advised by his voice teacher to quit singing because he failed to hit the high notes. Thomas Edison failed more than 6,000 times before he could get an electric light bulb to work, and when a child was labeled as stupid. Abraham Lincoln had many failures but became one of America’s most beloved presidents. Winston Churchill did not do well in school but became Prime Minister of Great Britain.

Closer to home one of my sons was labeled as retarded by his Grade 2 teacher, I remember the day he came home from school and asked me “Am I stupid Mom”. I had to intervene and remove him from that environment. l I took over his education myself and he is now highly successful in his chosen career. If we believe the lies that we have been told we need to face them straight on and refuse to believe them. When I was growing up I lived with an aunt for five years who believed criticism was the way to motivate, and would tell me how I was not as smart as her grand-daughter, or anyone else for that matter, how I would not succeed at anything. I survived that onslaught, and even as a young child would tell myself that she was wrong, I would not believe what she said. The fact that I could not read until I was almost 9 years old was not the defining factor of who I was, just a circumstance that could be overcome.

The only real failure is not to get up one more time when we get knocked down. In every failure there is always something to learn and sometimes failure can even open a door to something better.

So this year if you must make a resolution for the new year don’t base it on what you perceive as your failures of 2007 but on your dreams of success for the new year.

12 Responses

  1. Great post! And I definitely agree with you. For me, failure is an opportunity for learning. And like you said, it is how you get up after getting knocked down.

    “Fall down 7 times, stand up 8”

    This post = *two thumbs up*

  2. December 28
    The End of 2007
    As 2007 draws to a close there are many things that I might chose to write about, however one primary thought keeps returning to the top of the list; PEACE
    We live in a world divided by definitions; there are so many definitions that define each individual that one can get literally lost in the possibilities when attempting to give presence to a human being. What set me to thinking about this was a visit to the Doctor last week, while waiting in an examination room to be seen I heard the Nurse repeat the same question several times to a patient in the next room, “How do you define you RACE?” he asked,” are you Caucasian other than Hispanic?” The patient hesitated several moments before finally answering…” I don’t suppose you have a check box for “HUMAN” do you? she asked. The nurse repeated the same question again without even acknowledging that the patient had asked a question of her own. Not being one to loose such a fine chance to assert my own belief about this question I shouted from my room into the hall…”Do your have a check box for HUMAN?” The nurse either pretended not to hear me or didn’t want to enter the conversation, but meanwhile the other patient had gotten up and looked around to my doorway and began to laugh, as did I. “Yes,” she smile broadly, ” that is what we are isn’t it! All of us are just HUMAN!” It was one of those grand AH HAH! moments when two people of like minds entered that realm of TRUTH about what and who we are!
    Some of you, I know by comments I receive on my blog space, think I am just OUT THERE, TOTALLY CRAZY, BEREFT OF MY SENSES…however there is a growing number of my readers who have taken up this cause. Just this morning I was reading comments on an article about the assassination of Benajir Bhutto and one of those in the chat room wrote, ” Wouldn’t it change things if we stopped defining ourselves by our belief’s?” and I wrote back “Yes, not just by our beliefs but by the creed of our lives, our nationality, our race and the color of our skin!” Within ten minutes there were seven negative comments but the enlightening moment was when I counted the number of people who had chimed in to back up the two of us who want to be HUMAN, fifty one, yep 51 people chimed in to applaud the two of us who started the ruckus.
    Now that is exciting!
    Think of it, here in the US the average person is asked at least twice a week to define themselves by one of the following: Religion; Race; Creed; Color or Nationality.
    So as this year of horror and war, in this year of Stock Market Rollercoastering, in this year of Mortgage Failures and natural disasters one after another draws to a dreary tired close let’s start a Campaign! Yes, that is what is on the top of my list, I want to start a ball rolling that I hope with Snowball into a torrent of self defining change. From today on whenever someone asks me to answer one of those questions defining who, or what I am I am going to answer HUMAN !
    Here is my challenge to you who read my writings; I want you to practice answering all questions of definition with that word…HUMAN!
    Be ready when someone asks you to define yourself by one of the usual terms, look them straight in the eye and say, “Human”. Now I am not suggesting that this will be easy to do, in fact we are such creatures of habit that there is no doubt in my mind that it will take time to spread this thinking, but if all of us could just give it a fair trial it might catch on.
    Personally I think that we could start the first definition of mankind which doesn’t attempt to separate us, but instead begins to bring us together into a world where we could all live with one another in PEACE. Do you recall the old Lennon song about sharing life in Peace? This could be the start of a Pandemic that brings relief to this tired old world of ours. We are after all is said and done just HUMAN! Whether we are one color or another, what we believe, which political agenda we adhere to, when the end comes we are still just a human being. Our bodies will wear out, we will age in all the ways that flesh and bones do that, and one day we will die as is the way of fleshy things. In meantime though let’s just give this world something to think about…even if each one of us only gives one other person a chance to think about it.
    When we were created, it must have been by intelligence higher than our own, an intelligence that thought we would evolve into a species that would care for not only our own kind but all of the living things on earth. I am certain that whoever that creator being was didn’t foresee that we would begin to separate ourselves from each other by defining our race, creed, language, nationality etc. I am also certain that only way for this earth and its inhabitants to continue to exist is for those of us who are sentient beings to begin to view every human being as equal.
    There are many differences in all of us, we are each unique in our way, we are each special in our own way, but when evil takes over the mind we become unable to see the goodness that exists in others. It is unfortunate that in the age in which we live we are separated by barriers of all types’ not just words that define us but actual walls that separate us. Don’t take me wrong I don’t believe that terrorism and those who commit acts of atrocity should be allowed to go on their merry way destroying others lives, but I do believe that there are many good, honest and caring people in the countries from which these terrorist come who, if given a chance, would be happy to call themselves HUMAN also! I also don’t believe in a system where no punishment if given for evil behavior, what I do firmly believe in is a world that learns to live together in PEACE where there is no fighting, no war, no terrorists and all of us live in security realizing that we are Human beings.
    It is difficult to see how this could ever come to pass, but new beginnings are often difficult, it is only when enough of us believe that we are all human and therefore entitled to a life that is peaceful that change might come.”AH”, you say, “it is a great dream but could never become a reality!” NO! I say to you that each one of us has a voice, we can all be heard as individuals, and if we share a vision of a world at PEACE, where we are all seen as HUMAN BEINGS then that vision can become a reality. “What?” you asked! Yesterday the world lost a another person who understood that we are all human, taken from the world by the mindless work of an evil terrorist, she had a vision, that vision for her people, her country to be at PEACE in the world, to have a democratic government which would hold all the human beings in her country in the same regard. Just as simply as that one cruel act carried out in the name of terror ripped from her the life of her body, just as simply we can begin to change the corner of our world! Just one person carried out an act of terror that was heard around the world! Each one of us should stand and shout to the rooftops! WE ARE HUMAN! We were the hope of a creator being, it was we who were given sentience, we who were given the gift to recognize right from wrong, good from evil and it is up to us to try to change this world before it is too late and we have perished with this lovely blue planet on which we live. When the bells of the clock towers ring out the last second of this year stand on your porches, your balconies, your steps, roll down the windows of your cars and shout…”WE ARE HUMAN!” It is up to us where the next year might lead us, choose now what you will stand for in the next months, and choose now to exert your humanness on all those around you! Choose to be counted not by the old standards of definition but by your own, our own standards…WE ARE HUMAN!
    12:03 PM | Add a comment | Send a message | Permalink | View trackbacks (0) | Blog it | News and politics

  3. Hi Vic,

    Your insights are great. It makes me ill to think of what children have to endure and how it can affect them. Your son was lucky to have you to fight for him. You are very strong to have been able to overcome what your Aunt did in her misguided attempts to motivate. To varying degrees we all have to endure obstacles and you are so right that it’s necessary to form dreams for the future, not merely try to avoid past failures. I’m trying to get beyond survival mode and begin believing in a future. None of us know how long we have but merely surviving whether it’s a serious illness or other set of circumstances is a bit hollow without being able to dream beyond that. Thanks for visiting my site and I’m so glad I read this post because it was very timely for me. My best wishes for you in the new year, Carver

  4. Another way of looking at failures came into my mind:

    “An expert is a person who has done all the mistakes that can be done within a certain field”.(NIELS BOHR)

    BTW: I like to read your blog too, so you’re now linked at my “Shuffle Muffle Links” page 🙂

    Happy New Blogging Year with a lot of learning by mistake success 😉

  5. Excellent post!, my favorite saying came from a movie Galaxy Quest, “Never give up, never surrender!”

  6. Maybe the way your aunt reacted was a product of her times as my Mom frequently used that method on me as well. She didn’t feel it would be worthwhile for me to try to attend college when I finished high school because I had a tendency to not apply myself in her opinion. It took me 32 years from high school to when I graduated from college and my biggest regret – that my Mom wasn’t there to see me graduate in four years -not 5, 6 or more as many younger students take to complete college. Of course, the fact that after I graduated I was never able to get hired in a job in my field probably would have sent her off on a “I told you so!” tangent then but that’s ok now -I got the degree, did the work and no one can take it away from me -they just may never tap into what I’ve learned is all.

  7. The real world is about failure. No one is perfect, no one succeeds 100% of the time. It’s what you learn from and do with that failure that determines who and what you are.

    While I understand the school system and why they do the things they do, they don’t really prepare students to fail, how important it is that they do fail and learn from it, and what to do next after that failure.

  8. Every single person I know has a story of abuse, criticism, non-conformism, failure. How we persevere in life in the face of those obstacles will ultimately define us as human beings. We are all flawed; it’s how we tackle those flaws, real or perceived, that makes some people great, some average, some below-average and some, just plain evil (if I may use the word).

    Peace, as noted by Leah, should start with peace with oneselves, and only then can peace be wrought throughout the world.

    Cynically, I don’t see humanity achieving peace in our lifetime.

    Wonderful, thoughtful post, Vic, thank you.

  9. What a great way to think of it. This year I’m going to try to be healthier, eating better and stuff. Have a great New Year!

  10. Great post. “The only real failure is not to get up one more time when we get knocked down. ” Words to live by Vic Grace. Thank you for sharing.

    Happy New Year and blessings on you and yours.

    PS: I am adding you to my blogroll, Ok?

  11. That’s a really interesting post for New Years Vic. I had a mother like your Aunt but I refused to be repressed and accept that I did not measure up, behaviourwise, that is , not academically thank goodness.
    Have a very Happy New Year and your plans for 2008 sound interesting.

  12. This is an absolutely wonderful post! It’s so weird because I was just writing an email to a friend of mine indicating that my resolution was not going to be the typical “i need to lose weight” thing that I have done so many times in the past. But it was going to be to not dwell on the countless scars of childhood, and instead leave them in the past and look instead to the future. As I get older (approaching 37), I feel bad that I have spent so much time dwelling on the negatives of my past, the hurt caused by things my dad would say, etc. So for 2008 and going forward, I plan to let go of those hurts, forgive where necessary, make better efforts to see family I don’t see much, etc. Thank you for posting this. It’s a wonderful post. I hope too…that I can get to blogging some more. Although… I’m thinking I may go back to school to finish up a degree. Happy New Year! Peace, Love and Joy to you and yours.

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