Failing is liberating

I have failed and failed on many occasions. But this time it was different. It made me understand how liberating failure feels. It gave me the freedom and courage to take action. When you know you can’t fall much lower, you can finally take the actions you had intended to take for a long time, but for some self-limiting reason you chose not to. So, on the day I felt like I had lost everything, I took more meaningful actions than on any other ''successful'' day.  

In addition, failure has brought so much clarity into my mind. Soon enough after I acknowledged failure, I acknowledged what triggered it.  I connected all the dots and recognised where it all went wrong.

But more than clarity, failure brought to me the revelation of how I should’ve acted to avoid it. And what I should do moving forward. This combined with the courage of taking action and the feeling that I was running out of time felt powerful and thrilling.    

So, for example, as part of my reflection on failure, I realised that I should’ve been more strategic in my approach to work and focused on the things that could've given me an edge. Also, I should've connected more with the people that could’ve had a big impact on my fate and potentially steered me to avoid failure altogether. This acknowledgement initially deepened the sense of regret I felt at failing but once I got over that (or learnt to live with it to the point where it didn’t feel so crushing), I realised that I still had time. I could still initiate connections with these people. I knew it was too late to turn the situation around, but I wanted to make peace with myself by taking all the possible courses of action before I departed to embrace the looming failure.  

I took steps to connect to the person that I knew was influential, proud and visionary. I had meant to connect with him in a meaningful manner from the moment I met him, because I acknowledged the mutual sense of respect we had for each other and that he could’ve potentially had the intent and the influence to change my fate. I thought long and hard about the different ways in which I could’ve connected with someone that was above me (in age, experience and job level) and the idea of mentoring came into my mind. This initially brought about a sense of regret: “Why have I not asked him to be my mentor two years ago when we firstly met?” was the first thing that came into my mind. Instead, I had cancelled down the intent of going to speak to him at all as I wasn't sure on what basis to approach someone that I admired. Stranded by my self-limiting beliefs, I assumed he would be too busy to talk to me and that there were many people in line waiting to talk to him. To top it all off, I also felt constrained by my assumption that I was too insignificant for him to want to spend time giving advice to me and I wouldn’t have anything useful to add to a potential a conversation.

After I finished battling with this crushing thought and its implications, it all came to me: I still had time! I took matters into my hands and I went to speak to him. I knew it would feel awkward (I think that was the feeling I had been trying to avoid all this time) and it did. Especially when I bumped into him in the lift and missed my chance to approach him which made me to act more impulsively the next time I saw him: “I need to speak to you about something” To my surprised he didn’t ask about what and only said: “Come and see me this afternoon”. A boost of confidence crept up and flooded me with the momentum to initiate a series of meaningful connections with other people I knew I’d lose touch with once my failure was complete.

The acknowledgement of failure brought about the acknowledgement that no matter how I came across from that point on didn’t matter as I was going to lose touch with them forever. So, either I spent the little time I had left in their presence pursuing the meaningful bonds I intended to form with them or I would just walk away like I had done time and time again. This is how I turned failure into an opportunity, an opportunity to reflect, recognise and realise. I’ve hit rock bottom, picked myself up and dusted myself off. And I am proud.  

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