Chances are you’ve read somewhere, "the most successful people in history were once failures". Or, "learn to embrace failure!". And even, "you wont be the best if you don’t learn to fail". But I don’t buy it. From my perspective, failure doesn't exist.
This is not a naïve, unrealistic approach to life. I’m not preaching the “failure’s not on option” mantra that drives people to insanity in an attempt to achieve perfection. Nor am I denying the fact that many times we could have behaved differently to yield a more desirable outcome. And I'm definitely not saying we shouldn't learn from our experiences. Rather, my point is the concept of failure is contrary to the way in which life and all things behave. It suggests a dramatic series of sharp peaks and trenches from which to judge against the progress of others. It's an unnatural forced extreme that doesn't comply with the physical laws of reality. Ultimately, to embrace failure is to interrupt a natural flow and balance through unnecessary division and stagnation.
Consider this - failure is a term that inherently divides people and concepts. There are the failures in life and the successes. You vs. them. Yet, we all share the experiences of being both on the fortunate side of circumstances as well as the disappointing end at one point or another. By labeling someone or his work a failure during the latter we simultaneously alienate him from the rest of society. The division diminishes an essential strength formed only by community; it tears a hole in a balanced network, which, instead of moving forward together in a new direction, often results in permanent ostracization and resentment that degrades the integrity of the whole. To admit failure is to fracture a balanced system.
Then there’s the implication of stagnation. To fail is to be defined by a single moment in time as if all efforts, intentions, and actions can be summarized and dismissed so simply. That tremendous inertia you’ve built up over days, months, years is instantaneously smashed to a halt when you even consider failure, and acknowledging you’ve failed means all that valuable energy is lost. To believe in failure is to resist the laws of momentum.
Life isn’t defined by isolated bits of matter existing in singular, independent instances. Time isn’t a simple linear process you can stop and start orchestrated to the progress of your own journey. Zoom out far enough and individual people, ideas, and moments can instead be understood as a complex web of collective energy. So why bother describing who you are or what you do with a finite blip of alienating discretization?
If you step outside that polarizing way of understanding process, work, and exploration, it’s much easier to see and embrace a bigger, fluid picture. Your future is limitless and everything we do and are is interconnected. We may intend for particular outcomes and work diligently towards achieving them but we don’t control everything. Variables step in and futures evolve - if you continue to embrace the inertia so will your journey. Without failure we skip the stumble and simply adapt. Without failure we maintain our community, our strength, and fly forward.
Destinations are ultimately arbitrary, but there is beauty in the collective journey into the unknown.
Failure doesn’t exist.