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What is a Mistake? What is a Failure?

The dictionary defines a mistake and a failure in several ways. 

  • An act or instance of failing or proving unsuccessful
  • Lack of success
  • Non-performance of something due, required, or expected
  • A subnormal quantity or quality; an insufficiency
  • Deterioration or decay, especially of vigour, strength
  • A condition of being bankrupt by reason of insolvency.

Everyone has made mistakes that may or may not have led to a failure.

A mistake, when interpreted as a noun can be understood to be an action or decision that is wrong or produces a result that is not correct or not intended. A mistake when interpreted as a verb can be an act of failing to recognise an action, something or someone.

A mistake is an incorrect, unwise, or unfortunate act or decision. A mistake can be caused by bad judgment, a lack of information, or a lack of attention to detail. While a mistake can lead to failure they do not always have to end in failure. We make numerous mistakes every day without serious consequence. We would prefer to avoid making mistakes but without perfect attention and perfect prediction they are inevitable. Conversely, a failure doesn’t always have to stem from a mistake. 

 Failure is directly linked to success. We think we have failed because we have certain preconceived notions or understanding of not meeting our desired objective or goal. 

We must remember the difference between mistakes and failure. When we focus on our mistakes as an opportunity to learn, we are much more likely to not experience failure over the longer term.

What could be a failure for some could be a success for others. Failure means different things to different people.

Failure and success are relative terms and their interpretation and understanding varies based on our own state of mind and our own expectation of what we have set out to achieve. 

Most failures and successes are generally very transactional and momentary. We could fail and succeed every day, several times. Other failures have a significantly longer-term impact on us and possibly the people in our lives.

A highly successful person will see failures in their journey towards success as just another step, in life’s journey and learn from these. Such people generally see light at the end of the tunnel. A person who is faced with failure may see successes and learn so that they do not repeat the failure. They learn from the failure and re-dedicate themselves to learning from their failure to rebuild.

On the other hand, some people who fail throw their hands up in the air and walk away, looking at the failure as a bad dream, not to be revisited. 

There is no real right or wrong answer to how we should handle failure. It is also true that there are some failures that affect us much more than others. 

Failures occur in the corporate world or the world of business as well. Corporate failures can be on account of a flawed decision-making process of an individual or a group of individuals or it could on account of a poor implementation by a team of people. More often than not, corporate failures occur despite a substantial amount of research and after a significant amount of debate. This is required before the company decided to commit large sums of money.

Failures do not always stem from mistakes and sometimes they simply cannot be avoided.  We must get comfortable talking about them so we can move away from fearing them and hiding from them.  When we hide from our failures, we will never learn from them. That will be our real failure.

Albert Einstein, who was not able to speak fluently till the age of 9 and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921 famously said “Success is Failure in progress”.

Life is 90% of what happens to us and 10% how we react to it. When it comes to failing, our egos are our own worst enemies. As soon as things start to go wrong, our defence mechanisms kick in. We make every effort to save face followed by denial. It takes a while before we can see closure and hopefully this closure does not result in any lasting scars or memories. 

If you really believe that you are capable, you can. 

Why is it that only some people are famously known for their notable works or achievements? It is because no one else has tried and persisted. If you never try or fail, you will never learn. Keep failing. Failing is not wrong. It is repeating the same thing again and again. 

Remember that every great sportsman, mountain climber, musician or artist was once an amateur who must have invested serious time and effort to hone their skills. 

If you never fail, your courage does not increase.  

The sooner you get comfortable with practicing and making mistakes, the quicker you’ll learn the skills and knowledge necessary to master your art. You will never be 100% sure it will work, but you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work. So get out there and try again. Either you succeed or you learn a vital lesson. Win – Win

Mistakes are painful when they happen, but years later this collection of mistakes, called experience, leads us to success. If it’s good, it’s going to be wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s going to be an experience. 

Our mindset is at the heart of our success and failure. 

We have to take the good with the bad, smile with the sad, love what you have and be thankful for what you had. Forgive ourselves and others, but never forget. Learn from our mistakes, but do not regret. 

Life is constantly changing. Things will go wrong and life will go on. 

No matter how chaotic the past has been, the future is always a clean, fresh, wide open slate. 

What you do with your future is up to you. We cannot change the past or predict the future. But what we can do is stop clinging to the past or worrying about what might happen in the future.



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Disclaimer

Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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