The Stigma of Failure
I’m not sure about you but as a child or young adult even, the word fail would cause me great anxiety. The pressure to succeed and rise above my circumstances was high. As an adult I now know that pressure was a self-made, internal pressure.
Failing is the ultimate bad word. The word everyone fears and when we internalize this one single word we think of it as the beginning of our end.
We fail class or lose a game, we fail at seeing the truth or walking the line. We miss a chance or lose a job. We neglect a good friend or speak an easy lie. So many ways to fail. It’s no wonder adulting is hard.
I too was under this cloud of “You can never fail” for much of my life. Waking up and doing everything I could to avoid the world’s idea of failure. Then something strange happened, a Disney movie changed my life. I know it’s not that often you hear a grown woman use that sentence. But stay with me I’ll explain, I promise.
The movie that changed my life
The movie is Meet the Robinsons. I don’t even know what year it was. I had resisted seeing this movie as the previews and hype hadn’t really been anything I was interested in. Or so I thought.
I do know it was out on DVD before I surrendered to my children’s constant pleas to see such a silly movie. Little did I know it would be a life changing decision.
The movie is a story of a little boy, Lewis, having grown up in an orphanage and dreaming of a better life. He is an inventor, scientist and just wants to remember what his mom looks like. So when he fails at getting adopted for the 109th time he feels like something wrong with him. Then he meets a boy, Wilbur, on the roof and is whisked away to the future. Now I’m not going to recap the whole movie, if you haven’t seen it you should. It’s a great movie with an awesome soundtrack.
It is during his time in the future Lewis is introduced to Wilbur’s very unconventional family. It is all very over the top and super funny. But one of the most remarkable things about this family is they celebrate their failures??? They see them as a successes and almost enjoy them more than the successes.
To them failure is just a part of life, like getting you adult teeth or growing taller. Just a natural part of being a human and learning. OK, Wow I must have missed that lesson in school because fear of failure is the only motivator my teachers ever used. And as a result I had never seen failure as an even remotely close to good thing.
A new concept in life
I asure you had this concept been shared with me earlier in my life my older kids would have lived an entirely different life. One not afraid of failure. But that as they say is one of my epic parenting failures.
So now when someone fails, I don’t think of it as a bad thing. I think of it as them walking the path of awesomeness. Because historically people who have changed the world failed a lot. Life isn’t about getting it right the first time, it’s about trying something, learning why it didn’t work and having the courage to try again.
So please go out today and fail, then think to yourself “Now I know how to not do this.” Congratulate yourself for having the courage to try, fail and then try again. I think most of us will find the most important thing to know is how to not do something.