“People who are optimistic see a failure as due to something that can be changed so that they can succeed next time around, while pessimists take the blame for the failure, ascribing it to some characteristic they are helpless to change.”– Daniel Goleman
I suffered a recent failure. After months of writing my blog every morning and successfully posting it, I’ve missed several days due to illness. At first, I beat myself up for it and I created all these thoughts in my mind about what it said about me. After I tried to write through the clouds of my medicinal haze and fatigue, I realized that the desire to write wasn’t stronger than my body’s need to recover. I gave in and allowed myself time to heal. I’m still coughing a little, but I am writing this post and newly committed to writing the rest of the week.
In the past, missing one post would’ve sent me into a month of ignoring writing, emotionally beating myself up and procrastinating about getting back to writing. I would’ve questioned my talent. I would’ve questioned my resolve and I would’ve told myself that it was some huge sign that I wasn’t meant to be a writer. It would have been a neurotic pity party of epic proportions. But, that’s not what happened. I literally went through the motions in the matter of minutes, then gave myself some tough love. The fact is that if I hadn’t been sick, I would’ve completed the task. I couldn’t control my illness, so beating myself up about it was not productive.
As I spent the days in bed, I thought about ways to avoid the same problem the next time. I decided that I should have a few blog posts that I can keep that I can post during the times when I am unable to write. So, I am going to work on a stash of blog posts that I can post at a moment’s notice. That will make it easier to accept life’s surprises and not allow them to stop my progress. I made a plan for how to handle the situation and change the outcome. I looked at this situation as creating a scenario that I may have never considered. What happens if I’m not able to post? What is my contingency plan?
I look at it as a gift, because I have already been through it and I will be prepared if I have to face it again in the future. It changed my thinking and made me have to come up with something that I may never have thought of on my own. Life consists of success and failure. Each one brings their own gifts to life. It’s how you look at it. You can’t own the success and not own the failure as well. You shouldn’t allow the success to make you feel like a master of the universe anymore than you should let the failure make you feel like the biggest loser in the world. They are each something that you either celebrate or endure, but in the end, you learn from it and use it to prepare for the next thing in your life. If you’ve ever noticed, even when you have celebrated what you thought was your greatest success there is another challenge waiting for you. Take whatever life throws at you and use it to build yourself up instead of tear yourself down.
The next time you face an unexpected failure, instead of launching into a story of why you failed, accept it and turn it into a blueprint for success.