The problem with throwing up your arms and saying you’re a failure, or moaning unquantifiable mistakes is that there is nowhere to go and nothing to learn. Making mistakes and stumbling is as much a part of being human as taking in oxygen. We were born out of non existence and have been asked to make sense of all of existence. All of it. Not just a part of it, we wrestle with mundane issues of what to have for lunch, as well as existential issues as to what is the meaning of my existence. Why was I born? What am I to do? Will it even matter in the end?

We are going to make mistakes. We are going to make mistakes to the very moment we take our breath and that should be no surprise and we should not be surprised when we have soiled our endeavours once again. We shouldn’t be shocked that we over indulged in food, picked up another cigarette, yelled at someone for no real reason, or any of the other million possibilities.

But we do have to do something if we are to learn from those mistakes, because after all, that is why we are prone in making those mistakes. Our only failure in the final analysis will be if we don’t learn or become a better person because of our mistakes.

In order to learn and become who we want to be we need to sift through our failures until we can identify all the tiny grains of sand. We don’t have to understand everything. We can’t possibly do everything, but if we are unable specific things that have gone wrong, we have no hope to learn, to fix, adjust, change, and try again.

Failure more than success needs to be clear. Crystal clear. Identifiable. Understood, and mitigated for the future. That’s what we are meant to do with our mistakes. They are not the sum total of our lives. The are not an indication where we are going, but a note of where we have been. Mistakes have a beginning and an end. They are an event, as Zig Ziglar put it. They are not a person. They are not you. You don’t have to become and live out a script of failures that is not meant to be who you want to be in the first place.

So get down to the difficult business of sifting the tiny grains of failure. Don’t be afraid to see what you find, but before you begin make sure that you have patience and love for yourself. Without love and patience, mistakes will only make us tense and lead to a number of different mistakes. Without love, nothing is possible and so separate the person from the mistake. They are not one and the same, and cannot be treated as one and the same.

Don’t be afraid to fail, that’s what dreams are built on. Very rarely do you get anywhere on the very first try. If that was true, it wouldn’t have taken humanity hundreds and thousands of years to fly or venture beyond our planet.

Sift through your errors as though they were tiny grains of failure. Sift through them in order to grow and become stronger. That is the only reason to do so. That is the best way to help yourself and inspire others. Your failures are truly yours, but you’ll have to find them, and cultivate them into something useful.


Cover photo generously provided by photographer Tyler Nixvia