“The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same.” — Colin R. Davis
It’s ironic to think that my greatest achievements resulted from countless years of misery. Over and over, I failed at life. Romantic relationships were not my forte, school-life was hit and miss, friends came in and out of my life like the inanimate couple does a cuckoo weather house, and society seemed to have no place for a person like me. As a result of these experiences, Sacha the teenager walked through life a whiny little emo girl with the weight of the world on her black hoodie-ridden shoulders.
If only she’d known what an honour it was to experience all that shite.
The thing is, if it weren’t for all of those crappy events, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Make no mistake, I am not rich or famous or have the perfect life by any means. But what I do have is wisdom, knowledge and a sense of freedom from a past self who couldn’t see light at the end of the tunnel.
Unlike those who’ve been fed with a silver spoon, I’ve grown up. And trust me when I say that being an adult is nothing to do with age. The same goes for success. Without good values, achieving success is not a case of simply following a venn diagram. Achieving success is a maze. A confusing, stupid and irksome maze you go round and round in, scream at a few times, curse the bushes surrounding you and collapse in a hopeless foetal-positioned heap on the floor in. But once you finally crack through the confusion of it all, the world is yours for the taking.
Stamina, flexibility and a growth mindset are the key elements to achieving this, and they cannot be obtained without first facing failure. In the famous words of William Prescott, “an obstacle is often a stepping stone.” So whilst your happy-go-lucky counterpart seems to have their shit together, just remember they’re walking this world blind. And as soon as they face trouble ahead, they’ll be up crap creek without a paddle.
Capitalising our negativity into positivity is where it all begins, and using our innate ability to adapt to new environments will channel that process. Charles Darwin proved this when he made the argument for evolution, by saying that, “it is not the strongest of the species that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Therefore, it would be wrong to say that success and failure are the opposites of one another when in actual fact, they run parallel.
How we manage our encountered failures is what will determine our success, and making the effort to grow and learn, even in the face of failure, is the key to that achievement. If we believe that failure is not a permanent state of being, then we will continue to try hard and take chances.
If opportunities don’t come knocking, build a door.
However hard we may try though, we can’t always do this alone. We need support from others. And by the same token, we must also support others in return. Strength cannot be derived from an army of one. But a positive outlook and the belief in collective ability will take you from strength to strength. Remember, two heads are always better than one.
Talking of failure, an old parable of the wise and foolish builder provides a rather relevant notion. They taught me this one in primary school and it’s stuck in my mind ever since. The story follows two men building houses. The first man chose to build his house on the sand because it was easy to access and quick to make, and the other man took the hard route up the rocky hill and spent many months building his house up there. As you can imagine, it didn’t take long for Mr Sand’s house to get swept away once a torrential storm broke out. Whereas Mr Rock’s house was safe. No matter how hard the storm hit, his house was immovable. His foundation was solid.
His efforts paid off.
So, just like with the maze, stamina and determination are the undeniable arrows that point you towards success, and even if you don’t think you’ve achieved it yet, it doesn’t matter. It’s all in the timing. For when the storm comes, you’ll be glad you’ve built those foundations.
Our last mistake is our best teacher.
Failure is critical to success.
Castles can be built from mud piles (at least metaphorically, anyway…)