A Guest Post by Amanda McCarter
Success is important. It means we’re moving forward, that we’ve achieved certain goals. Winning a race or a contest, getting a contract, finishing a book, losing weight. Whatever we set out to do, we want to achieve that thing.
Failure is seen as a setback. We didn’t do it. We screwed up. It’s depressing and soul crushing. We worked so hard (or maybe not hard enough) and got nowhere.
This is the wrong way to look at failure. We need to stop seeing failures as roadblocks to success. Maybe we can look at them more as detours or perhaps the scenic route?
Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I just found one thousand ways that won’t work.”
Think about that. The man invented the light bulb. He didn’t just go to his shop one day and pull a light bulb out of his desk. He worked at it. He tried over and over again until something worked.
Those aren’t failures. That’s exploration and determination.
I think, as writers, each rejection, every bad review, every “close, but no cigar” of our careers is just another way of finding out what works. We’re discovering ourselves, our voices, our work patterns and ethics.
Recently, I got fired from yet another job. It was in the IT field. The six years I spent in that field, I got laid off, fired, or quit out of disgust. I hated it. So this last time, when they brought me the box and took my keys, I cried a little bit. It was frustrating.
But I learned something. That wasn’t the right field for me. I’ve since moved on to a job where I get to work with animals. I love it and I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a job this much. Every day brings something now for me.
Did I fail at IT? Maybe. Probably. But I succeeded at discovering a field that makes me happy. I took all my experiences from a job that made me miserable and found one that makes me happy.
Imagine for a moment, that we got everything we ever strived for the first time we tried. Where would that put us? Would we appreciate it as fully? Would we even try anything else? Failures, these little detours, they help us grow and learn.
So I say failure is not an option. It’s a necessity.
Get out there, skin your knees, collect those rejection letters, feel those sore muscles, scream at the scale. Whatever it is you’re working towards, embrace the failures. Each one helps you discover more about yourself and gets you one step closer to the prize, whatever it is.
Fail hard. And smile. It’ll confuse the hell out of people.