On Failure

This one is easy in the sense that most people have experienced it at one point or another. But how have you let it impact you? Has it paralyzed you? In that, has a fear of failure hindered you from making great strides? Or has failure given you a bold audacity to thrive? Because it has been both for me. Failure has paralyzed me and it also has inspired me. I think it's usually more of the latter these days, and I'm grateful to God for that.

The thing with failure is we all need it. It's humbling, but more than that it's eye opening if you maximize it well. There are also different kinds of failure. There is the failure that occurs because you didn't try. But then there is the failure that happens even after doing everything you can; everything within your capabilities; making all the best plans; praying with all your might; and then still fail. That's really the kind I'm addressing. Despite the pain and shock and feelings of inadequacy that might accompany failure, you must never let that conquer you.

So when I saw the above picture, I smiled. I smiled because it felt familiar. I am in NO WAY comparing myself to the great Michael Jordan. Ha, no. I'm saying I know what it means to fail, to be rejected (literally in every sense of this word), and to keep trying. There is a kind of freedom that comes with having no fear of failure. There is, to use the word above, an audacity it equips you with. I have failed so much that I don't think I am scared of failing anymore and that feels good. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying failure has no impact on me or that I still don't feel the sting that comes from every "NO" or every silence. Of course I do. Haha. I'm saying it can't stop me from trying again. When asked how she was able to build the multi million Naira brand that is EbonyLife TV and Films, Mo Abudu said it was from never relenting.

"It really is a game of numbers." I remember her saying. "Everyone can't say no to you. Eventually someone says yes."

Listen, if that ain't the truth.

To be clear, and I feel like I always have to give a caveat because I would hate to be misleading, and seriously I'm the most cynical person, which means I do not like sweeping, overly vague "encouragements" or cliches. So I must warn you to apply wisdom. This means, if something keeps failing, it's sometimes because you are doing something wrong and should attempt to approach it from another angle. Be flexible in your approach. Let's give the most rudimentary example of failure: an exam. So you took an exam and failed. Re-examine your study methods, evaluate your weak points in the subject and hone in on those. Indeed, ask yourself the importance of this exam in the first place. If it's time problems, take practice tests under time constraints....etc. Don't just keep writing the same exam and failing and think it's just a game of numbers. No please. So you get the drift? Use wisdom, try different approaches, sometimes you might need to abandon it altogether and try something else. But try you must; do not give up. And this can be anything. After all, we fail on many different things in life, don't we? Jobs, exams, businesses, projects, relationships, challenges...whatever, just don't because you already failed once decide to cower. Nope.

Most importantly, your failures don't define you. I personally TRY to do my best, but I also know it’s not a matter of life and death. I think the older I grow, the more I’m able to define my identity. The clearer I’m able to state what defines me. So like I always say, my failures don’t define me. Indeed my successes don’t either. They are parts of the whole me. It's important, I reckon, to know this. It’s probably why I don’t hammer on and on about things I have achieved*. I do what I want and keep it moving.  So I constantly pray that I we are not (or my entire existence is not) hinged on a crippling fear of what if I fail.  What if I can’t? Well, what if I CAN?



*P.S: please know I am not saying to not celebrate achievements and successes. Far from that, in fact celebrating your success helps you better deal with failure. Just don't dwell on them so much, even they begin to paralyze you :)

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