How do you measure success and failure in life? There’s a thin line between the two, and what may be considered a success for one person may be another person’s failure, based purely on how they measure it.
Could changing the way you measure success and failure offer you a different, more beneficial perspective on life?
A Techy Example
Here’s an example… this blog makes far less money than some of my other online ventures, however I consider this blog to be far more ‘successful’ than my other more profitable websites.
I don’t use profit to ‘measure’ this blogs success, I use feedback from the people this blog is intended for. So although a financially motivated blogger may consider this blog a failure, in terms of income to work ratio, my primary goal for this blog is to engage people in personal development and build self-awareness.
I also use growth and traffic to measure this blogs success. And although small right now, there has been steady growth in people reading this blog since its inception in March 2017.
Now for me, I consider this blog a success. However, if you spoke to another blogger in the same position, they may tell you they would shut this blog down due to lack of profit, or not enough traffic.
You see it’s all about how you personally measure success and/or failure. It’s about perspective.
The Successful Failures
I’ll give you another example, one which I’ve come across ALOT in my previous field of work.
People who are suffering with an addiction, often attempt to stop using the addictive substance to which they are addicted.
They may go into rehab or attempt to stop using their drug of choice by some other means, like home detox or going ‘cold turkey’.
Now, if they don’t succeed in stopping, or stop for a short while before going back to using the addictive substance, they more often than not, regard this as a failure. This perspective can lead to feelings of guilt or remorse and can stop the person attempting to stop again, for fear of the same outcome.
If the person attempts to stop a few times with what seems like the same outcome, this reinforces the ‘failure’ perspective even more, and before you know it, the person gives up giving up.
As with most things in life (including kicking drugs) it’s a learning curve. Each experience is an opportunity to learn something about yourself and your situation.
Staying with the example for a moment, there are many successes which can be gleaned from each ‘failure’.
So if you’ve learnt something vital for your next attempt, can that be considered a failure? In my opinion no, you may not have reached the place you hoped you would, but you have certainly moved forward and grown in ways which can only benefit further attempts.
Failure Leads to Success
The word ‘failure’ conjures up all that is negative about the human condition. We are even fearful of being seen to be a failure by others, in case we are judged or ridiculed.
You might put my perspective down to always trying to see a positive in a negative, or seeing the glass as half full rather than half empty. This may be the case, but I sincerely believe your outlook (or perspective) can shape you as a person, your experience and any possible future outcomes.
It can be the difference between living an emotionally healthy and happy life or a life of quiet desperation. Life isn’t experienced in the black and white, it’s experienced in the varied shades of grey we all spend most of our time in.
Success and Failure
Success and failure, right and wrong, good and bad are just words, words which keep us separate and disconnected from our true path. Judging yourself based on these narrow definitions of life can at best, be limiting, and at worst be self-defeating.
Measuring success or failure is subjective. What may at first glance, seem like a failure, is usually an opportunity to grow or learn something which is essential for you to move positively forward in life.
Don’t take my word for it, think about a past ‘failure’ right now, and with the added benefit of hindsight, did you learn something from it? Did it affect you positively in the long run? If that ‘failure’ hadn’t occurred would you be where you are right now?
It’s not a matter of seeing the silver lining in every cloud, it’s about traversing life’s obstacles with its inevitable peaks and troughs, and gaining something from every experience, even the seemingly negative ones.
How do you measure success and failure? Are they even words in your vocabulary? Would we even have success without the failures? Do you believe failure leads to success? Your turn…
Written by, and with thanks to, Angus Finlayson of Prevolving