I did a post on my author’s blog about the big F word, failure, and in it, I said that at the same time as being miserable, failure isn’t so bad. I even mentioned that failure is liberating. That might sound strange in a society that worships success, (whatever that means) but the point is, that if you have failed, you have nowhere lower to go and so nothing left to fear.
You can even stop trying. That can be a bad thing of course, if you think it means stopping trying to improve your skills, but that’s not how I mean it. I don’t mean that you give up, just that you stop the struggle, the terrible sense that we have to succeed at something in order to be worthwhile. You just do your best and get on with life and with whatever you want to do with it, but you don’t care whether or not what you’re doing is brilliant or bad, because you’re not doing it to succeed, you’re doing it because that’s what you want to be doing right now.
It saves a lot of angst and if you take away the desire for success as a motivation, you’re left with something much purer and more profound. If you still do what you’re doing even though you’re a failure, even if you have no hope of success, then you can be sure that that is what the universe wants you to do and you probably have something to offer the world in that area even if the world doesn’t recognise it right now. Look at how many of today’s famous artists died in poverty.
If you allow yourself to really feel your failure and to go into it deeply, it also reminds you what is important in life. Perhaps, you’re not going to get into the Olympics, or sell a million books, or sing on Broadway or get into the University you want to but have a look at what you have done and what you do have.
My biggest success is my daughter. She is a beautiful person and I do take some credit for the way I have raised her. Next to that, I set up a distance education centre for students of Sogyal Rinpoche and ran it for ten years, and finally I completed a series of Tibetan Buddhist practices that few westerners manage to do. These are my successes, not because I haven’t had other successes but because these are the really important ones, the ones that have to do with bringing benefit to others and giving me the mental strength to handle whatever arises in my life.
When, in the light of failure, you strip everything away, you are left with just yourself, in this moment, now, and if you can simply be with yourself, you’ll discover that there isn’t anything you need to do to be happy, because it’s in you and always had been. You don’t need to succeed at anything. You just have to drop trying and simply be. That is real success and everyone can achieve it simply by dropping all effort. Now.
This is peace in failure. It’s liberation because once you accept failure, you’re free from the effort of trying to succeed.
How do you feel about failure?
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