In the Praise of Failure

A man goes to a psychologist and he complains about his lack of success in his life. ‘Things are not going well’ says the man, ‘I haven’t reached what I am supposed to. Now I am full of talent, but I am settled so far below my potential. Please help me.’
‘Ah’, says the psychologist ‘you are ‘failing’ yourself’. And the man is nodding his head. It seems that this insight is not new to him. He is used to that that he is failing himself. And then the psychologist explains: ‘You are failing yourself because you are afraid to succeed.’ And why is he afraid to have success? Obviously because of the depth and duties success will come along with.

Now the truth is simple, but it is a paradox. It is not only that we are not able to succeed because we are failing ourselves, but we are not failing enough! And that is what is not allowing us to reach success. It is not the fear of success, but it is the fear of failure.

Why is a person afraid of failure?

Because when he fails he feels bad. And that is because ‘the stock market’ of his self-esteem is breaking down. The main reason that people do not succeed is tight to the point that they don’t know how to fail. In other words: they don’t know how to accept failure, without cutting their heads. The law of success says that you have to fail to have success. Failure is part of the road to success. But because of the hard response that failure creates in our system. Failure instead of being part of the road to success becomes to be a barrier. Something which apparently is the opposite of success.

But failure is not the antithesis of success, it is the first gate to success. The more a person reaches higher in his maturity, the more he will be able to see the difficulties as something essential on the way to achievement and success. And not as proof of the disability of the success. The attitude towards failure is a way to measure the maturity of a person. And indeed the difference between being infantile and being mature has to do with attitude to failure. The infantile sees failure as a sign of incapability. The mature sees it as a tool like training on the way to success. It signals to the mature person the distance between what there is in him and what is the level that he is wishing to be in.

And the more the level is higher and far away, the more failures he will have to face on the way towards this level. And the more the success is significant and is against the standing consensus (unanimity), the more failure will be. This means that failure will always be in a proportion to heights, to the greatness of the achievement of success. And the more the success is significant the more you’ll have to go through more failures.

It is hard to understand that we are living in a place that is ruled by Murphy’s Law. Murphy’s Law says: ‘that everything is harder than it seems.’ And that is against the common perspective that says: ‘everything is in our head.’ And if we will persuade ourselves or we will believe ourselves enough, or we will think positive, or if we will focus only on success or ‘we will not give up on the dream’, then we can make it to success without any troubles.

But that makes the whole thing of success even harder. What you need to know is that you have to fail many times more than you will succeed. The road to success, in this place, is like climbing a greased metal pole, where you slide down two meters every time you made progress of one meter upwards. There are more failures than successes. There is more difficulty than luck. This is a hard place. But our vision is only one poled vision. We don’t measure the failure in its direct relation to success, but only in the context of the failure. Failure compared to failure is irrelevant. But a failure concerning success is significant because it leads to success. If the failure comes alone and not as part of polarity, you perceive it as an antithesis to success, but not as an essential condition to reach it. And then, when the first failure comes, you crash: ‘nobody told us’.

Anyone who wants to succeed in any kind of area has to understand that the problem is not success, but failure. Not to know how to succeed, but to know how to fail without cutting your head off. How to fail positively. How to fail as part of the effort and not as the antithesis of it. The problem with many psychological aspects and new-age are that they channel to the person that deals with the difficulties and persuade him that he has to focus on success on the way up. To be focused only on the good part.

And what is the result?

For a person that wants to go to the table, because on the table there is something that he wants. And on the way, there are many mines and booby-traps, and holes in the ground. And the person that guides him tells him: ‘Ignore the mines, ignore the holes, just focus on what there is on the table.’ And then with the first fall, his legs break; the way to success is redemption through the sewage; you reach up only through the down!
The down is a gate on the way up. If you are not dealing with what brings you down you cannot reach up. And it is hard to accept what is written here, because who wants to fail? It is much easier to sell a method or a religion or a way that teaches to reach up without any failures. Or with at least a limited amount of failures. The new age says that failure is only in your head, and the reason you cannot succeed, is because you think too much about failure. And if you forget about failure and you think only about success, you will succeed.

But I say that you shouldn’t ignore failure no matter what. A person has to go through failures. But these words are upraging, who wants that anyway. To go through so many failures, until one will succeed? No way! You need motivation on one hand and despair on the other. If the person has both he will succeed to go through the first gate of failure, because then the dead-end of failure will become a gate.

When a person does not have enough despair on one hand or motivation on the other, the failure will ground him. Despair comes from the knowledge that if the person is not going to go through that gate he will fall back again to the lowest state which originally he was before trying to come out. Motivation comes from the desire, the real desire that comes from the stomach and that is in love with the potential that exists at the level where he wants to be. Despair comes from the emotions, motivation comes from the stomach.

But there is another parameter that makes it easier –or harder: and that is a psychological parameter: it is self-image. Self-image is very important regarding the ability to deal with failures. Despair and motivation will allow a person to try again and again, a high self-esteem will allow a person not to crush on himself after the first failure, in other words: to minimize the psychological damage after a failure. Meaning: not to take it personally.

The self-image has to do with the crystallization of the self. The more a person has a strong gravity point within, the more stabilized his self-image is, and the higher it will be. The problem with failures is not the problem of the failures themselves, as the problem of the self of the person.
If the person has a strong gravity point and self he will have no problem with failing. He needs a strong gravity point, unchangeable of who he is, a center that will release him from depending on failure and successes. If I made an analog and would compare the soul of a person to the economical system then there should be a strong currency that whatever happens on the stock market will not crash. Strong currencies are not affected by a lower rate in the stock market. But if a person is not yet crystallized and has a strong self, he will find himself depending on the successes and failures and without a constant stable inner gravity point, he will blow with the wind according to the graph of failures or successes. And of course, a situation like that is unbearable. You have to be a person whose something inside is not dependent on failure or success. Something that can absorb the failure without becoming dust. Something that will hold on, along with the failure something from inside him that can take strength to face again and again and again until they will succeed.

(Translated by Gilad Sitton, Sara de Boer 06.04.08)

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