“By every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.”
Those are the words of a woman who, on the verge of poverty and depression, struggled to write a 3 chapter manuscript that was rejected 12 times by 12 different publishers. In a later interview, she describes those days as dark and filled with fear as she had a small child to provide for and a dream she couldn’t deny. But she didn’t give up. And millions of people are happy she didn’t because this woman, J.K. Rowling, wrote the Harry Potter series which went on to make over 400 million dollars in sales, ultimately making her one of the richest women in the world.
In today’s society, we are run by the concept of success and failure. Even as children we were taught to believe that no matter what we do we will either fail or succeed and failing means you’re not good enough. These beliefs can cause fear of failure and fear is what prevents so many people from trying in the first place or giving up when they hear “no”. As the great Albert Einstein famously said, “You don’t fail until you stop trying.” And so many people stop trying as soon as they hit a wall or fail to get the end result they expected. But giving up will ensure that it’s over for good and isn’t that the ultimate failure?
More often than not, failure serves as a wake-up call and is actually very beneficial to your ultimate success. It’s showing you that redirection is needed. Failure also opens up the door to other possible opportunities that you didn’t notice before. And finally, failure gives you a chance to reevaluate your situation and go back to the drawing board. Quitting takes away these valuable opportunities for you. It is said that you learn more in a single failure than a lifetime of success. Because failing is like a pause between takes. You have this golden opportunity to take a breath and decide how to do it differently. Failing is actually just another chance to get it right. Here are some guidelines on how you can use failure to your advantage:
* Write down what you would do differently if you had a second then give yourself another chance to do it. Take some time to discuss this with friends or family to get feedback.
* Use the feedback and do your own research as well to see what others who have succeeded in this have done.
* Write out another plan of action and reach out to those you think might be able to help you in your path. They might say no, reach out anyway.
Failure doesn’t mean your goal wasn’t valid or that your dreams aren’t good enough. You might need to change direction but it’s essential you stay on course to your ultimate destination, whatever that may be for you. A failed relationship might lead you to finding your soulmate, getting fired from one job might set you on the path to your dream career. When recovering from an addiction you might not be able to do it the first time. You might make it out of rehab and fall back into old habits as soon as “real-life” sets in again and the bills are piling up. Your goal is not just sobriety but a major change in lifestyle and you might not be able to get it right the first time and that’s okay. It’s important to forgive yourself, to trust your counselors, and know that no matter what your end goal is you will succeed ONLY if you don’t give up!
Failure may delay your chances of success but quitting will ruin them for good. In failing you will gain insight that you wouldn’t have had access to in immediate success. So fail and fail often. And the next time you start doubting yourself, remember Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper because he was told he “lacked creativity”.
Dr. Balta is the Medical Director at FCR for more than 10 years. Dr. Balta is Board Certified in Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine, Certified Psychoanalyst. As well, as having Psychiatric Training at The Albert Einstein School of Medicine Psychiatric Residency Program In New York City and Psychoanalytic Training at The William Alanson White Institute in New York City. While working in New York City, gained funding Grants for the treatment of Substance Abuse Disorders from SAMHSA , HRSA and the City of New York.