The Point Isn’t To Fail, it’s To Win, But Fail You Must

This essay was originally featured in my free Sunday newsletter.

“There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”

-Aristotle

Comfort is warm and cozy, and sure, we all want to be comfortable in our lives as often as we can. But is it possible to be too comfortable? Is a comfortable life the best life you should live? Perhaps you have the potential for more?

Questions we must all ask of ourselves…

It makes perfect sense to desire a warm and cozy life. After all, a cozy life doesn’t have big ups or downs. It’s even-keel, mellow, low-stress, safe, and for some people, exactly what they need (like a Hobbit).

While a warm and cozy life is safe, it’s also uninspiring and uneventful. It’s not exciting and it’s not going to do anything grand or worth remembering. And again, for some, this is just fine.

Ask yourself this question: Which are you?

For me, a warm and cozy life is the last thing I want. I know that about myself well enough. Of course, that being said, I do sometimes wonder what life would be like if I did want warm and cozy. Life would be much easier for sure.

But I don’t want easy and I never will, and this is why I embrace–seek out, even–what’s hard.

Highs and Lows

Here’s the thing about life: If you want to experience grand highs and do grand things—as many of us do—you also have to experience the grand “lows.” These lows bring us pain, anguish and misery, and while we naturally want to try to avoid them, we really shouldn’t.

We can try to mitigate them, and learn from them, but resist them we should not.

Every time I’ve ever tried to avoid or control the lows of life, I failed miserably. Now, I aim to trigger as much of my Stoic side as possible so I can accept, even embrace, the lows of life.

And yes, in case you were wondering, it’s really freaking hard.

fail-often-and-hard

Wanting the High Without The Low

For those of you that want the highs but can’t or won’t accept the lows, I’ve got bad news for you: life don’t work that way.

To do anything great, you have to get your hands dirty. You have to fall down and scrap your knee… a lot. You have to make an absolute fool of yourself, usually more than once. You have to take risks and be vulnerable. You have to open your life up to ridicule, judgement, and at times, hostility.

However, on the flip side, if you would rather have a more even-keel life, without all the ups and downs, that’s perfectly fine too. Go for comfort and easy and you’ll get just that. Of course, I’m going to assume that you probably don’t want that since you are reading this.

And so, a rule of life that you and I must follow is this: We can take the safe, easy route or the unsafe, difficult route, and as a result, we will get a safe life or an exciting life but not both.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

-Robert Frost

I say DO IT!

If you want to reach the highs, you need to take the risks and survive through the lows. It’s the toll you must pay to cross the bridge that leads to greatness. And there’s no cheating or shortchanging this price.

The thing is, most people don’t realize this is how life works. They either want greatness and don’t want to pay the price, or they think they want safe when they really want excitement. In either case, they struggle because they haven’t taken the time to figure out who they are and what they want.

No one way is right or wrong, actually, scratch that; that’s wrong. Here’s actually how it is: One way is right for the individual for whom it is right and one way is wrong for the other.

Again, you have to figure it out for yourself.

My purpose in writing a piece like this is to inspire you to seek the unsafe, uncomfortable and exciting life, and to embrace the struggle that is going to be apart of that chasing. As Hellen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

This is for you:

If you want to live an exceptional life that is full of abundance and unique experiences, you will have to get out and get your hands dirty.

You have to fail often and hard. Then you have to pick yourself up and go again. You have to do this over and over and over until the end of time.

Those who reach success in life at anything are the ones who have the grit to stay the course when it winds them down unknown, and difficult, paths.

A Thought Exercise

Take a moment to imagine yourself failing at something. Imagine you just tried FIVE times and failed gloriously each one of them. Now, if you are like most people, you would definitely have quit by the fifth attempt, maybe sooner.

Now consider that you went 10 times, failing each one still. Do you think you’d go for an eleventh? Do you have the grit to do that? Do you have a stomach for the embarrassment and insecurity that is going to increase with each failed attempt?

If you are like 99.99% of the population, you don’t.

  • Attempt and fail 50 times: Few individuals will ever get past a few tries.
  • How about 100 times? These individuals almost always “win” because they go until they do. (It’s what I like to call, “Manufacturing results.”)
  • How about 1000 times? These are the people that end up in the history books because they changed the world.

No matter what your personal tolerance for failure is, you can always increase it and fail more. And that’s what I want you to start doing more.

Fail more

Something to note here: The goal isn’t to fail, it’s to succeed. So when I say, “Fail more,” what I mean is you should be constantly doing the things that are hard while trying your best to succeed, and as a result of constantly putting in that work at the highest levels of your threshold, you will fail naturally as a byproduct of those efforts.

Make sense? Good, I’m glad we understand each other.

How willing are you to fail?

This single question will determine your success in life. This law applies to everything, not just monetary success. In your relationships, your career, and in the relationship you have with your yourself, you will forever grow exactly correlated to how willing you are to push your limits and fail.

Your willingness to fail, because you are doing what’s hard and operating in that arena, will translate exactly proportional to your success.

From now on, when something stands in your way, look at it as your path to greatness. Remind yourself: This is training for my future.

When you are experiencing pain, torment, or anguish, know that you are being prepared for your destiny. Then use your lows as a source of strength and future appreciation for the highs that are just around the corner.

Operate at your highest levels on a daily basis and fail as a result. Make no excuses for yourself and take none from others.

Yours in Life,

-Colin

Colin headshot

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