You’re applying for a job. You write a cover letter and send it along with a resume. No one responds. You send 35 more. Listen to the unwanted, reverberating silence of being ignored by the world.
Your boss asks you to send an agenda before you meet with him. You do. He complains you didn’t put the agenda items in the correct order, meaning the order he would have. He makes you feel like a failure, a person who can’t think sequentially and logically in a way that makes sense to other people, especially him. You failed at guessing the order he wanted to see the agenda items. As a mind reader, you’re a failure.
Your boss brings you into his office and says your last day with the company is that day and the decision is final, have a nice life, or drop off your badge. You ask what happened and he says something about how you failed to perform at a high enough level, failed at working well with others, failed at understanding concepts, failed at providing what he needs, and failed at making him look good (he doesn’t say this last part but that’s what you think he’s thinking).
You wait three years to get the starting role on your college football team. You get it. You don’t play well. Your coach benches you. Your half-baked, unfulfilling, hours of yearning to get on the field football career is over. You got your chance and you failed. Your coach starts ignoring you because you’re not in his future plans because he’s more worried about failing as a coach than you failing as a player. What this really means is he wants to make millions for himself and doesn’t really care how many millions you make, or anything at all about you, because he wants to win and you can’t help with that.
On a random Saturday morning in high school, you take the SAT and it’s a lowly, embarrassing score, telling you you don’t have much innate intellectual ability, which means it’s going to be tough for the rest of your life to impress anyone with how smart you are, which slams the Ivy League door in your face, which will limit your opportunities for high-paying jobs and promotions.
Professionally, your sad SAT score has destined you for failure. You failed to understand this didn’t have to be the case because you failed to see you have other strong traits. Instead, you wanted to focus on your failure.
You ask a girl out on a date in high school and she says no. Your high school girlfriend tells you she’s attracted to your friends, which makes you feel like a failure as a boyfriend. You run for senior class president of your high school and lose in a landslide to a kid who scored 1400 on his SAT and never misses the chance to mention his 1400, every day in some way. For the rest of your life, he holds a card you’ll never be able to play. You failed as a politician, got out-positioned, and out-smarted.
You forgot your lines in a college school play. Say goodbye to Broadway. Grunt, unglamorous white-collar work is your only path.
You strike out three times in one baseball game to the same pitcher. You’re on a football team that loses 35 to nothing and during the game you were amazed at how hard it was to compete against the superior opponent. Your team got annihilated. Never had a chance to win or score. As an individual player you failed, and your team collectively failed. A collection of card-carrying losers.
You were given an assignment to write an article for your newspaper to see if you deserved to be a full-time member of the newsroom staff. You submit your article and editors tell you you failed the test and recommend you leave the company to get more writing experience. The undercurrent you sense is: “Please leave us alone.”
You write a book that 60 publishers reject, and another book that another 60, 100, or 160 publishers dismiss, hitting delete before reading any of it.
Your Dad is disappointed in you and thinks you failed him as a student.
You call a friend nearby. He doesn’t call back. It’s become obvious he’d prefer not to spend time with you. You failed to convince him he would feel good hanging out with you would be worthwhile for him.
You fail all the time. You failed as a kid. You failed in high school and college. You failed over and over in the working world. Every day, every afternoon, every night, in all kinds of situations, you failed. You flourish as a failure. You have a flair for failing.
You’re a college football coach. Your team keeps losing. Your players are getting paid to leave your team to play for other ones. You fail at convincing them to stay.
You lose more games. Your team keeps failing. You get fired because you lose too many games. You’re a failure as a coach.
You enter the transfer portal as a player. You expect to play well for your team but you fail at that. Your decision to hop to another team amounts to a failure.
You failed. You failed. You failed.
You failed again.
You fail. I fail. We all fail.
Why focus on failure? Because I want to. Because it’s on my mind. Because failing scares me. Because I get up every day hoping I won’t fail but confident I will. Because I like to write about what I’m thinking about, and I’m thinking about failure.
Because writing this makes me feel like less of a failure, because the more I write the more success I’ll have ridding my life of writing that fails. Because I believe in failure as a motivating factor in my life. Because failure is my foe. Because failure is what I like to beat. Because failure is what bothers me. Because failure is what drives me to be successful. Because when that happens, which sometimes happens, I feel really good. Because without failure I never succeed.
So fail, my friend. Fail often. Fail forever. Fail like no one ever has. Be the biggest failure this world has ever known. Make a button and wear it every day that says “I’m a failure.” When people ask about it, tell them failure sustains you, turns you on, gets you up in the morning, gets you to Starbucks to start typing, activates your mind, deepens your desire, strengthens your resolve, and fuels your body.
Tell them failure is what you need to keep going, to keep wondering, to keep striving. Tell them you’re a success because you’re a failure.
They may not understand. You may fail to convince them.
It won’t matter.
As long as you understand.
Sammy Sportface, a sports blogger, galvanizes, inspires, and amuses The Baby Boomer Brotherhood. And you can learn about his vision and join this group's Facebook page here:
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