Do you see failure as the end or the beginning?

I am sure the majority of you have read about Michael Jordan’s plight to becoming a leading basketball player. What stood out for me is he did not give up on what he knew was the right path for him.

Failure is inevitable in this life unless of course we decide not to take any form of action or risk. How dull would our lives be if we only lived within the remit of what we could easily do?  Our comfort zone is not the place to be, though it feels cosy it brings nothing but the same of what you already have.  For the majority of us there is an element of excitement we derive from trying a new activity or starting a new venture. It is this which makes us feel alive.

Failure is not necessarily the end. If we do not try a new venture/join a course, how will we know it is in fact not for us? Some know exactly what they are good at from a young age and go on to excel in this.  Others will take various opportunities and find a particular course or career is not suitable for them. 

There are stages in life when we close the door on a business or career path and this too is fine if we are 100% certain we have to change course.  Perhaps we did not understand the sacrifice it would take; financially, emotionally and physically.  Perhaps we walked into it with the wrong motives.

Looking back to my school days, I looked forward to English, History and Geography class and had a strong dislike for mathematics.  I was and am able to understand basic mathematics but struggle with the likes of deep mathematics. It just did not click for me no matter how much I concentrated. I desperately wished to understand the formulas and refused to accept answers without knowing the “how”. I even retook GCSE mathematics and received the exact same grade – who does that?!!

I have shared this with very few people as for years (over two decades to be exact) I felt utterly ashamed and embarrassed that I could not master maths. This no longer has a hold over me so I can be vulnerable and share it. Thankfully I have passed all my assessments on applying for jobs – whether or not my strength in English influenced my results, I will never know and certainly am not complaining.

I shared my experience as it is often easier to relate when you know others have tried and failed and also tried and succeeded.  If you do not take a step forward you will never know. Why live a life of “what if?” when you can use the knowledge and expertise you have today?

I made a decision to push forward in order to reach my goal, if one road is blocked, I will try another. If I need to move on then I will with no guilt, shame or a need to justify myself to others.  Every experience I have had, both painful and pleasant, I have learned from even if it is how NOT to do a thing. 

What do you class as a failure?
How have you overcome failure in your life?



24 thoughts on “Do you see failure as the end or the beginning?”

  1. I agree with you. If you fail at something, you can learn from the experience. Then it’s not really that much of a ‘failure’ anymore. Successful people have usually flopped at several things before getting it right.


  2. Answering your question whether I see failure as end or beginnings? I would like to say I take them as the beginnings with lessons learned for reference. What say?


  3. I think one thing that is important, which you stated about reaching your goal. A failure, without a goal is a failure. A failure with a goal in sight is a lesson.
    I know it might not make sense, but having a goal is like a light. It allows you to see your roadblocks, Without one, you are randomly stumbling along.


  4. Great point. I noticed when I was very young that my father would only do activities that he was great at. And I felt like he hid from things that were challenging. And I believed passionately that wasn’t the way to live. And this has helped me live outside of my comfort zone as an adult. But I am often tempted to crawl back to where it is comfortable and easy. Thanks for the reminder not to do that!


  5. I had to take algebra in college after barely getting through it in high school. After two weeks in the class, the professor kindly took me aside and said, “Mur, you’re just not getting this. Drop out and take the basic math class.” And I still needed a tutor! (I tutored him in english.). I was ever so thankful that he said that. I still hate math. Was I a failure? I have to admit that I never thought about that as a failure. I’m had lots of other times in my life that I failed, but our parents taught us that when you crash, you get up, dust off and move forward.


    1. Funny how we just gravitate to some subjects. In life we need people to be honest with us. It will either spur us on to work in excellence or cause us to think about about our future decisions.


  6. Good or you Phoenicia. I’m not embarrassed to admit I’m terrible at math, we each have our strengths and weaknesses.

    On the subject of failure, I recently read an article by someone who was obviously seeking validation for her decision to give up on a “lifelong dream.” She ended the piece by asking readers to share their feelings about failing to achieve an important goal. I replied that I’ve honestly never failed to achieve a goal that really mattered to me because if I hit a roadblock I simply looked for a way through, over or around it. I don’t think that’s the kind of answer she was looking for but it’s the way I live and my approach to teaching the value of resilient living.


    1. What a difficult place to be in – giving up on a life long dream. I assume the writer had strong reasons for deciding to change the course of her life. Only we know our “when” “why” and “it is time to let it go”.


  7. When I fail, I try to take it as something to learn from and to improve on next time. There is nothing wrong with failure, in fact it is to be expected that you will fail multiple times, but take it as a positive though of course, this is something that is easier said than done at times.


  8. Phoenicia — I, too, am not comfortable with math and numbers. But years ago when I was marketing director of a bank, I decided it was time to learn accounting. So I took a college course, Accounting 101. It was difficult for me, but I persevered and earned an A. I’m still proud of that effort and I learned a lot about debits and credits, too, and can read a balance sheet and income statement!


  9. I used to dislike English when I was in school and excelled in Science and Math so I ended up majoring in computer engineering in uni. Now, I’m an English teacher, the irony! Finding the right career path has not been an easy journey for me, I struggled for 3 years in uni where at one point I really thought about changing major or even dropping out altogether. But it’s made me realise what I DON’T want to do and pushed me to where I am now. I love teaching and I hope more people realise that your career path is not set in stone and written in your degree.


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