Failure. Let that word ring in your head. Think of the times you have heard it. Think of the specific contexts in which this term was used? Has it ever been directed at you? How did you feel in those moments when you have felt like a ‘failure’? Not a great one I reckon.
Moving further, the next question that follows is: What is your attitude towards the idea of failure? What does the prospect of failing at something make you feel? Ponder your state of mind of not being able to meet a certain goal or objective, or simply not having the capacity to do something you really want with your life at the moment?
The problem with failure is often more about the reality of actually failing than the fear that many men carry when it comes to the possibility of failing. The sense of negativity if not dread towards failure that many carry with them is the real problem.
A problem that down to an array of factors. Notable here is social conditioning. Much of it is born of our development trajectory, which in the West tends to be academic-heavy; the lack of role models during the formative years of a person’s life; and the type of incentive structure we have set up in our societies. Where the reward for success is strongly contrasted with punishment or some type of consequence for… You guessed it “failure”.
Ultimately the problem with failure, and later the fear of failure comes down to the lack of exposure to physical and mental challenges that emphasize the principle of learning through experience, and underlying it, through failure itself.
In times past, learning was viewed as a process of undergoing a series of trials. A rite of passage one could call it.
Where in the period leading up to it, the person, usually a youth, was mentally and physically prepped for the challenges he had to face. Each instance gives him new insight, making him stronger. So that when the time for real testing arrived he was ready to confront them.
This method of learning is hard to come by in the modern. And underlying it, the idea of learning from failure, or error is not valued. Critically when it comes to development, the absence of frameworks that can extol the importance of learning through failure becomes a major hurdle for men.
As you will see in the course of the post, failure is not only a part of the development of the process to build better men, but it is vitally important for the attainment of success.
Why Failure is Important
If you cast your mind back to your schooling days, you may recall the emphasis that was placed on getting ‘it’ right the first time. To be able to ‘make it’ on the first, or at least on the first few ‘goes’.
The social pressure for, not exactly success, since we are only talking about learning environments where the immediate payoff may not be as significant, but about being able to prove to your peers and superiors that you have what it takes.
For often what follows in the event of any “failures” is that the person in question: the said individual who couldn’t meet the mark, hit the bullseye, or make the right calculation is punished.
The term “punishment” varies with time and context. What we are talking about here is the adverse consequences that are associated with not being able to meet a specific goal, follow acceptable criteria for action, or the inability to adhere protocols in certain tests.
Whatever the scenario, failure is often associated with an end. Something you have not been able to do or accomplish.
What counts as the punishment most likely differs with the times, particularly in an era of inclusivity and ‘don’t cause offense’ of the present. But the principle nonetheless remains Actions that meet the mark get positive feedback. And those that don’t are generally castigated. With very little in between.
This potentially dissuades the person(s) who “failed” from taking further, smarter action in the future. And depending on their mindset, at some point, the person may give up altogether. In other words, if success is the goal, the way things are set up with respect to incentives, one might be tempted to think that the system has been set up for many to fail.
But take any effective method of learning: like learning how to beat a boss on high difficulty, failure is necessary for success. But how do you translate this in the real world?
Learn through Mistakes or Not Learn at All
We have all heard it before. If you do something wrong the first time, keep trying till you get it right.
As good and positive as this piece of advice may sound, how many of us have actually taken this teaching to heart? How many of us have fully absorbed this principle, or the law of life, and proceed to operate according to it.
If you look at the world today, with the sheer percentage of men who don’t make it in life when it comes to areas like finance, relationship, personal leadership, etc. To say nothing of the men who don’t reach their fullest potential and become the success stories that they all wish to be.
Each of these specific instances involves people, men specifically, who not reach only fail to reach great heights, but are severely weakened in their capacity to live a meaningful life.
From the lost souls who fill our prisons, join gangs, and live off welfare in the more extreme cases; to those who are content to lead a mediocre life where following the routine of life of work, family, and other communal commitments takes up much of the time. With little in terms of growth, excitement, and fulfillment.
In a word, we are living in a time where there is a dearth of success.
Yes, that word. Success. The word that is the inverse of failure. But isn’t it interesting? The very thing that society, at a developmental level seems to discourage or at least seek to minimize, forms the core of its antithesis.
Let’s look at this problem practically.
Take any skill. Nothing too fancy or complicated. Let’s take something like riding a bike. If you have a ridden one or do so currently, you would know that being able to get yourself on it, stay there, maintain your balance, and then be able to ride it for a meaningful distance does not happen in one go. Maybe it does for some people. But for most that are not how it works.
Some people got their start on bikes with the help of training wheels, which is meant to lessen the learning curve, but at some point, you will have to get on a real bike and do your thing. To get good at riding a bike you are going to have to go through the process of trial and error.
By facing innumerably small but significant challenges and overcoming them in order to be able to perform this function with ease. But you will never succeed, if not for the exposure and the opportunity it brings to learn via trial and error. To make the small, countless mistakes, and then be able to recalibrate and move forward.
The learning process of trial, error, correction, and reapplication, broadly applies to virtually any arena of life. From learning to drive a bike, a car, or a job, to even getting good with girls.
Whilst this is especially true in the technical arena, what is often ignored is the social dimension. If you have managed to navigate the academic arena with reasonable ‘success’, what is likely to be missed by many men is its importance in the social arena, which has an effect on virtually every area of your life. For if your aim is to become a truly masculine man, then it would wrong to neglect this key area of development.
Success in the Social Arena
Humans are social creatures. Succeeding in life at the social level is a skill game. No matter what you take, there is a right way to do things and a wrong way. Think here of the trash movies that flop every year at the box office.
‘But getting to the heights of success is not easy. It is not straightforward. It is not without errors, or should I say failure’.
But that is what life entails. If you are going to meet your goals in finance, relationships, and personal development, you gonna have to make a lot of, not exactly mistakes, which people translate as ‘failure’. But sub-optimal decisions.
The rule of life is that only by making these lesser, but exactly incorrect decisions, will you learn from them, and then be able to succeed in the future.
So what do we mean by ‘succeeding’ socially? To answer that let’s look at a human example. If you think of someone you like, follow, and respect to any degree, you will know that the person in question, has something about them. A presence.
Now ask yourself: What is about them that makes them interesting? Leaving aside factors of expertise, and hierarchy, the qualities that make a person with high value or capital is how calibrated they are in social situations.
Something about what they do, say, and act makes them interesting. Makes them worth your time. In sum their presentation. But also critically, how they respond to adversity and conflict.
Succeeding in life requires that you succeed in the arena of relationships. Which requires the knowledge and relative mastery of soft skills: Which relate to a person’s emotional intelligence, work ethic, the presence of a growth mindset, and critically being able to learn from your mistakes.
In our current discussion, what matters is about not viewing failures as failures.
Needless to say, these skills are not innate to most people. And don’t kid yourself, no matter how ‘good’ you think you are in life: whether it is in work, personal development, or when it comes to the ladies, and even when it comes to the deeper questions of morality, these things to need to learn.
You need to put in the work to master these skills in order to see the results. For it is only by doing so, do you stand a chance of succeeding.
But how do you do it? How exactly do you apply the principle of learning from mistakes, as a framework of life, in whatever arena you wish to improve? Like relationships for example?
Embrace Rejection to Achieve Recognition
There is a saying or concept (call it whatever you like) in the dating arena that you gonna get a lot of rejections or ‘NOs’ before you have success.
In other words, you gonna hit on a lot of girls, with little in terms of positive feedback (phone numbers, dates and lays) before things start going your way. Especially at the start.
Since women and relationships form a key part of a man’s life, getting things right, or to put it differently, succeeding in this arena, entails a process of learning from error, or to use the word, ‘failure’.
But here we encounter a small matter, a nougat of truth if you like: You see in life there is no actual failure. Only setbacks. Hindrances. That must be faced and overcome.
The inability to meet a goal at a specific time and place should be viewed as a mere setback for the time, that could be done so at a different time.
For if success is about learning from one’s mistakes, and improvement and later perfection can only be attained via trial and error, then the idea of ‘failing’ is no longer applicable. It should not be applicable.
Look at it this way: if there’s anything that’s worth doing in life; anything that carries the possibility of reward, involving challenges, obstacles that will test your knowledge, skill, and temperament, then the reality of ‘failure’ so to speak, at some level, is a given. The real difference lies in having the willingness and grit to keep going.
As Winston Churchill, the great wartime Prime Minister of Great Britain said: ‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts'.
Why Some People Succeed?
This is a point that especially holds true in the arena of relationships. Take any guy who is good with girls: If he is able to approach and talk to pretty much any girl in a given social setting, is someone who has little trouble getting dates, and for those who care, ‘closes’.
The question is how did he get there? Or in other words, become a success when it comes to women?
What did he do to be able to carry himself in such a confident way in a variety of social situations? How is able to get that positive response from girls, who for many men today, it must be said, seems nigh unreachable?
Well besides the celebrities, rock stars, and sportsmen in our mindset, success in the dating arena comes down to social calibration: Which is the combination of experience, skills, and later on, logistics.
Knowing how these three work together and being able to manage yourself in social situations, and deal with internal and external challenges is the key. None of these things just happen.
The dating game, and later the business of relationships, is a skill game. This comes down to what you know, and how well you are able to execute on them, which connects with the next key variable: mindset. The kind of mindset that is not afraid of rejection, setbacks, or failure.
The problem today is that many men are too afraid to make mistakes. They are too fearful of getting out of their comfort zone. They err on the side of caution when it comes to taking action, which is often an excuse for sticking with what’s familiar, comfortable, and safe. For this (boring) state of affairs brings with them little to no chance of failure.
Get Up or Lose Out
To succeed in life you have to take action. Wait let me correct that: you need to take a lot (or massive) action, with the right guidance. Since we know that most social challenges involve a degree of skill and experience, it is not simply about doing a lot of things until something sticks.
Trial and error are about learning something new, so your next attempt is a better informed one.
The old concept of not just working but working smart holds true. But to an extent. For now, it is about taking action, with the right guidance.
Since we are not at school anymore a fixed framework of learning is no longer accessible for many. But the need for it remains. Especially for those who wish to excel in a certain area of life, or would simply like things to improve in their life. But feel constrained in some way.
So what happens now? Well, the good news is if there is a will there is a way. The question is do you want to find that way. If yes, then this might be for you. Here is a list of reasons why failures are necessary for success:
One: Failure follows dedicated action. If you haven’t failed, it means you haven’t tried.
Two: Failure means you have not met your mark, not your incapacity to do so.
Three: The more you ‘fail’ the more likely you are to eventually succeed.
Four: Every failure must involve a feedback loop. Seek out guidance, help, or in a word: coaching to ease your progress.
Five: Don’t be afraid to fail.
As the great Stoic philosopher, Seneca stated: ‘A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials’.
If you wish to experience real change in your life, no matter the arena, if you are a person whose fear is what makes most of your decisions, then it is time you took stock and made a change.
There is a lot more that can be said on the subject of success and failure. What you need to bear in mind is that would falling (an aspect of failing) you will not rise. And what does that mean to fall: it means you fall short, you don’t reach your mark, you eat too much, you mess up your workout routine, you drink too much or at all.
Remember that in each of these setbacks there lies the ingredients of true success. If you want to have it it is there for the taking. No matter what it is, if you preserver, you stand to succeed.