One of our dear friends, Kofi Hughes, once said on our podcast together, “You are not what you do.” We are separate from our work product, from our athletic exploits, and from any “output”; we are not what we do, whether or not we succeed or fail.
Failure, then, is not a failure of self.
Let that sink in for a minute. YOU are not a failure as a person.
It is a momentary failure in pursuit of trying to be better, trying to accomplish something, or by default simply failure in effort. Some of this failure might not have been in our control. We are much more, as human beings, than what we do for work.
It is our ego that tells us otherwise.
I missed the game winning shot. “I am a failure.”I didn’t get that interview. “I am a failure.”I messed up. “I am a failure.”
This is exactly the kind of negative self talk that is pervasive in our performance dominated culture. “What have you done for me lately?” It’s either win, or you’re done.
Athletes feel the sting deeply. So do parents.
Truthfully, if we push the envelope enough we should fail. When we let our ego detach from the expectation of success, we are free to push the boundaries without the sting of regret, shame, or the feeling of failure.
We can begin to reframe failure as an opportunity to get better, separate from the human being we are.
Failing is not being a failure.
Push hard enough and you will fail. Let the battle cry sound like, “Good, let’s go again!”