We have discussed the fear of failure. Today, we are going to discuss the acceptance of failure.
What are the odds?
Before we get to accepting failure, we need to look at the probability we will have to accept failure. For the purposes of this discussion, failure is the unsuccessful attempt to procure, engage in relationships/marriage, make sound business/monetary decisions, maintain employment and navigate social situations.
It is inevitable.
While I cannot deny success is far from a guarantee in every instance, I have a hard time grasping the concept of inevitability. To subscribe to this theory means you will absolutely fail. Ultimately, the failure is something to which you are resigned.
Often, failure is a self-fulfilling ideal. Believing before you begin you will fail contributes to a lack of effort. Why invest (money, energy, emotional capital) into a venture you deem likely to fail? Lack of investment translates to failure. You do not commit enough resources to make the venture succeed.
It is 50/50.
This is another theory which is a hard pill to swallow. To subscribe means there is enough randomness to success to only attain a half probability. The optimistic side of this idea is you have no greater chance of failure than of success.
The theory holds no accounting for personal input, necessarily the outcome is predetermined based on factors beyond your control.
This choice is more palatable. Failure does happen, but the probability of it is determinant of the effort put into success. Optimists often subscribe to this theory on the basis they can control enough aspects of the venture to make success a greater probability than failure.
The opposite end of the failure spectrum is to deem nothing is a failure. While the division of the camps herein are mutually exclusive, this idea has merit.
Deniers: Failure is not their own because their failure is a direct result of outside influence (man, nature, higher power). Deniers resemble the Inevitable crowd, in they see the failure as a possibility, yet when it occurs, it is not their fault. In other words, when failure does occur, it only does as a matter of actions beyond their control.
Adapters: Failure is a learning tool and merely a step toward success, whether necessary or merely unintended. Adapters do not believe failure is a viable outcome. When failure occurs, it is a middle ground where (technique, methodology, perspective) is changed to ensure success.
Thomas Edison’s quote is an example of adapters. When asked how he felt about his 700 failed attempts to invent the light bulb, he said:
I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”
There is a massive amount of grey area between complete success and utter failure. To some, failure is not attaining precisely the destination. For example, a racer may feel coming in third place a failure because the race was won by another. The racer who came in second to last does not feel like a failure because the race was completed without crashing the car.
Using this analogy discounts the Inevitable theory because it acknowledges failure and success are not an absolute in all matters. In fact, we can all engage in the same behavior, like the racers, and feel our efforts are successful or unsuccessful based wholly on our concept of what the goal is.
Knowing how much of our failure is our own responsibility is another large field of grey. Deniers are certain all failure is the product of someone or something else. The last racer finished the race a lap behind because a blowout required more pit time than could be made up before the end of the race.
The Happens crowd takes more responsibility for success. They recognize the harder they try to succeed the more often they will be successful. The reciprocal is not always true. They are not necessarily accepting of their responsibility when their efforts fail to produce the expected results.
50/50 believes regardless of what they do, failure is in the (cards, stars, providence). They are not likely to take much responsibility for failure.
The least amount of responsibility is taken by the Inevitable bunch. Since failure is determined by circumstances and influences beyond their control, they bear no responsibility for failure.
What is your level?
On some level, we all have no choice to accept the consequences of our own failures. We either admit they exist with or without caveats, or we use them to refine our method for success.
Where is your comfort level with failure? How is it possible to fail and not refine the method for success? How much responsibility for failure should you take?
In discussing this matter with someone else, I got the following quote. Please tell me if you agree or disagree, which group is most like to use the quote and whether it applies to you or someone in your direct social circle.
Acceptance of responsibility is less important than finding someone to blame.”
(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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