Reflecting on Failure as a Byproduct of Growth
We have all experienced failure in our lives. It’s how we view it that sets people apart.
Image Credit: Gratisograpy (modified to add quote)
A few weeks ago, I was reading a post over on BecomingMinimalist.com. It addressed the struggle to “run with the cool kids.”
The post itself was very good, but it was a reader comment that moved me and really got me thinking about how my failures have shaped my life. Here’s her comment and mine in reply:
As for my failures, I’ll evaluate two of mine in the hope that you will take the time to think about yours and perhaps change your perception of what they mean in your life.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but these are a couple of my most colossal failures and how they could have tanked me, but didn’t.
# of College Degrees = 0
Not being raised in a family that pushed getting a college education, I chose to go directly to work after high school because earning money was more alluring than sitting in a college classroom. I was so eager, in fact, that I graduated a semester early so I could get a job.
Viewed from the negative: For many years I was embarrassed that I didn’t have a degree. My resume was missing that important credential and I couldn’t relate to my co-workers when they told stories from their college days.
Most of the people I worked with assumed I had a degree so I dreaded being asked where I went to school. That question or one like it would ultimately blow my cover.
For a long time I bought into the lie that I was “less than” without that piece of paper.
Viewed as a positive: In 1997 the movie Good Will Hunting was released. It was a story about a troubled genius, Will Hunting (played by Matt Damon). In the movie he made a statement that anything you can learn in college you can learn from a book at the library. That clicked.
Coincidentally, that is a message my father had engrained in me during my youth. Somehow, hearing it from a character in a movie is what drove the point home. I knew that I could learn anything I wanted to learn. I often bought books, took classes, “tinkered” and used the trial-and-error method to hone my knowledge and skills.
I learned that employers are interested in hard-working, creative, collaborative and good natured people. Sure a degree is a great way to get in the door, but so is a portfolio of your work and solid network of people who will speak up for you.
Related Posts and Resources:
- How Corporate Culture Affects Your Bottom Line
- Blue Collar, White Collar…Now, No Collar
- References Available Upon Request…Really?
- A Surefire Method for Getting a Letter of Recommendation
- Coursera (recommended by reader Garry Burgess, a site that offers free university courses)
# of Bankruptcies = 1
If you’ve read my About Me page, you know my story. Humiliating skeletons hidden in your closet wreck havoc on your ability to be a whole and authentic person. I’ve never been so scared as I was the day I published my blog and admitted to the world that I had declared bankruptcy. Enter public shame…or so I thought.
Oddly enough, not one of my family nor my friends brought it up. That could mean that they don’t read my blog but I know that at least some of them do.
Viewed from the negative: A bankruptcy is a cop out; a legal method of shirking responsibility. It forms a scar on your credit record and locks you out of being able to purchase things that generally require credit to obtain. Heck, back when I filed, you couldn’t even rent a car much less a video from Blockbuster.
But worse yet, it chips away at your self esteem making you feel dumb, irresponsible, out-of-control and unloveable.
Viewed as a positive: Now don’t get me wrong. I REGRET MY CHOICE. But I chose not to let it stop me from living a fulfilling life. Instead, I vowed never to make such a bad financial choice again. That meant I had to begin being a better steward of my money and learn how to save and plan for my future.
By sharing my story, I hope I can help others come out from the shadows, accept that they’re human and begin to heal.
Related Posts and Resources:
- Football Finance: Money Lessons Hidden in the Game
- The Holy Grail of Personal Finance Numbers: Your Net Worth
- A Simple 2-Step Test to Ensure You’re Prepared for Retirement
- 4 Ways I Use Quicken to Stay On Top Of My Money
Make no mistake, I’m not proud of my failures but rather than have them define my life in the negative, I use them to push me to a better place.
I also don’t let the fear of failing stop me from trying new things or going after my dreams. Sometimes you have to be willing to fail before you can see the next piece of the puzzle that will ultimately result in success.
What about you?
How have failures in your life held you back? What did you do to overcome that?
Sometimes just stating a perceived failure is enough to break out of its bondage and begin to view it simply as part of your growth. So please be brave and leave a comment. Who knows, it may be just the inspiration someone else needs to break free!
Affiliate Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase. You can learn more about this by reading my Affiliate Income Disclosure page, which includes a list of companies whose programs I participate in.