First of all, people often tend to see failure as a negative thing. I can see why, but let me share why I'm disciplining myself to see failure as an opportunity. You see, failure is like a creature dependent on energy. Failure can only thrive on the energy WE give it. Its symbiotic nature is like a leech feeding off your fears and insecurities. Failure can only exist if we let it, and it can only hold us back if we let it. So this sounds like some self help, pick yourself up by your britches sing-a-long and try again right? Well, yes sort of, but let's break down how we can change the image of failure forever.
Recently I competed in a body building competition to start the year off and get myself back in the groove of competing. I had been keeping my body at a pretty low body fat percentage while maintaining a flexible diet most of the early part of the year and did a rigorous 30 day prep just before the show to dial in. I can say that my physique was at its most muscular I had ever seen it and I was confident in my posing from my previous experiences. But fast forward to show day, and after a day of posing, oiling and applying many coats of tanner, I got 4th place. I had failed. It didn't make sense to me. I was in my best shape, my posing was on point, and my energy ignited the stage more than anyone else there; and yet, I had failed. I couldn't believe it and I didn't understand. This was one of the first times in my life that I had allowed myself to feel confident in my work and know that I had deserved the reward at the end. But I didn't get it and it broke my heart. Now, all my family and friends comforted me and assured me that I should have won as well, but we all know that sentiment can only go so far. There's only so many times you can hear your grandma say, "Those judges don't know what they're talking about." So what did I do?
Well, after binge eating just about every brownie, cookie, and donut I could find, I decided that I needed to do something with this "failure" and turn it into a fuel for myself. I had to first look back at that day, grade my performance in my head, and subsequently compare it to the other competitors as well. To accurately weigh our efforts we need to be honest and fair and hold ourselves accountable even when it's difficult. Most competitors on social media will tell you to not worry about the results and that comparing yourself to others isn't healthy. But this was a body building competition, and I don't know about you, but any competitions I've ever been apart of have been about beating the guy next to you. Not always the case, but in most sports or head to head competitions that is the end goal. The idea that everyone is a winner and that the journey out weighs the reward is a newly adopted philosophy that I believe can soften your drive and eventually invite complacency. If you want to fight your failures and ultimately your fears you need to feel the fires of your failures and use them to battle your next challenge. In my honest opinion I believe I should have won 1st place that day. I believe all elements combined that I possessed the best overall package on that stage. There: I said it and I don't feel bad. I don't feel like a poor sport or sore loser because I even gave the guy who won a hug, and I meant it as well. I had to accept what had happened and trust that this was all meant to be for some reason. It didn't happen over night and it wasn't easy to over come. But over the course of a few weeks I was able to accept my ruling and I have begun to trust in the overall process of why it happened in the first place. I am trusting that through this failure I will come out bigger, stronger and that I will possess a new found courage that will hopefully burn through my fears the next time I step on stage. The final piece of this puzzle is to learn from the results and not let it hold you back. This could be the most challenging step of all because we must take everything we've learned and ultimately say, "I will try again, but this time..." We have to approach our next challenge whether it be the same endeavor or a new one with a new callused skin and a fiery passion that will be evident to others around us. Some would call this vengeance or retribution, and will warn you of the dangers of pursuing this passion. But call it what you will, all I ask is that you don't give up. I'm not recommending the use of hate or malice in your challenges, but rather a fearless courage that will push you past any boundaries that once stuttered your efforts.
I hope sharing this recent "failure" and it's subsequent epiphany for myself, can help you through a "failure" you've been struggling to accept and move past yourself. Eric Thomas once said, "Just because you failed, don't make you a failure. And just because you lost, don't make you a loser." This wasn't always something I believed for myself, but after grading my efforts, trusting in the process, and ultimately learning from my failures, I now know that my "failures" will never define me, but they will guide me...and I will succeed.