I’m a failure

I think it’s funny when you watch a supposedly “shallow” movie, when, in the middle of all the clichés and action going on, suddenly something profound is spoken, something that really hits you.

Like when i was casually watching “The Core” a couple of days ago. In a scene with the beautiful, extremely skilled, intelligent, successful space pilot (played by Hilary Swank) and her former commander, there is a discussion if she would be a great leader (for the important expedition). And he says to her, somewhat surprisingly, that, no, she’s not a leader yet. Because she has never failed in anything. A real leader knows failure, how to admit failure and deal with it.

It’s pretty obvious isn’t it? It’s easier to be a good leader when everything’s going fine and people are happy and cooperative, than it is to be a good leader when things are getting rough, peoples mood is at the bottom and everything seems dark. And things always get rough in one way or the other, sooner or later, and the leaders will of course be a part of the cause, the failure.

As I said it’s pretty obvious, but how often do you see in job advertisments: “Requirements: several documented failures”.

In our winner’s culture I think that failure is one of the most, if not the most, stigmatized words there are. If you really, really want to hurt someone you call him a failure, or loser. Admitting that you, you personally, have failed is one of the most difficult things there are. We fight like animals to avoid it, blaming everything in the world, rather than admitting and also realizing that we’ve failed.

Sometimes when I watch the news when a big crisis is up, and a politician or a business leader is responding to what have happened, I get a sensation sometimes that the world is longing for someone to step up and say “we took the wrong decision, we failed to sell our cars, we failed to…”. It would mean that they’re human, just like the rest of us, that they’re taking responsibility, that they have a notion of what to do about it. Doesn’t happen too often, though, does it?

I think that fear of failure is the main influence in a majority of the decisions we take. That’s what makes us stick to the rules when we know we shouldn’t, that’s what prevents us from picking up the phone to ask for a job/date/gig/sale, that’s what makes employers hire people with the “right education” instead of creative people, it’s what makes us reject change and it’s what prevents us from doing what we really want to/should do.

And isn’t it so stupid? We all know that there are no winners or losers. We all fail and we all win sometimes. And if we don’t dare to fail we won’t accomplish much. If I think about it, most of the people I really admire, among friends I know and also among famous people, are people who have gone through a lot of failures. They wouldn’t have been able to create what they did if they hadn’t failed. And many times the failures themselves are admirable.

Maybe it is the failures that make the world tick, that make us go forward? Wouldn’t it be nice to just realize a failure, to say “ok, it didn’t work, but at least I tried, but let’s move on now”? As simple as that.

Yep, it seems easy. Still, it’s something I struggle with everyday, to fight back that fear. There were even fears about writing this post. Should I really write this? Is this really interesting? What if it’s misinterpreted? But I did it. If it comes out useless, at least I tried, and then I’ll try to write a better post next time. /Pär

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