Let's Take Another Look at Failure

"It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might has well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default". 
J. K. Rowling

So, when various things happen in life, and we fail, I am suggesting here that we actually look at it in a different way. Did we fail? Or did life just change?

Isn’t it really that life has just changed and challenged us?

David Richo, a very clever Buddhist therapist, smart guy, says that one of the few things we can really count on in life is that things never stay the same. One constant in our lives is change. 

A huge part of our human angst is that we become attached to the way things are and are stressed, sad, angry, hurt, or just plain panicked when things change. 

Our culture spends so much time worrying about failure and avoiding it. What about reframing the word “failure” to something else. The problem with the word failure is that it seems like such a failure. 

Sure, we see little bits and pieces on the web or on a bumper sticker about failure being okay, because it puts us on the road to success blah blah blah. Yet, is it really? 

We can look at it another way. Maybe things just change and we are challenged in life and we need to move on to new challenges. 

One thing about life is inevitable, things always change.

So, let’s look at failure and at life. 

Because I am a divorce lawyer, my most common client is the one who has come to the end of a relationship (duh). I see people who have decided to separate often after many years of being in a relationship. So, while it goes without saying, we think this marriage ended up in failure, but I ask, did it? Did it really? 

If people have raised children together, have a respectful relationship with one another and are financially able to survive, does that mean they failed? Does it mean they have failed even if they are no longer together?

"Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be"  – John Wooden

Here is another way to think about it. One of my awesome sisters was with a guy for 18 years. His name is Paul. 

Although Nettie and Paul did not have children together, they raised her 2 children together and spent time with his children. Although my sister went on to marry another guy (now with him 25+ years), she has an ongoing friendship with Paul, and for her, most importantly, she has an ongoing relationship with her step-children and their children. She is Grandma Nettie to them and she loves them and they love her. So, even though my sister is no longer with Paul, I question whether or not her relationship “failed.”  Sure, things changed, but I don’t really think they failed. 

I also think of the woman who came to my office recently. She was with a guy for more than 15 years. They built a life together, have some assets, and decided to separate. She lives on Vancouver Island and he remains in Alberta. They talk frequently as they still own assets together. Although my client has very much wanted to move on, they are also still friends and acknowledge their importance to each other. So, was this relationship a “failure”? I wonder.

I wonder if a better way to describe a relationship ending is to simply say that they are doing something different right now.

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm" – Winston Churchill

This article was written by Val Hemminger, the nonconforming professional 

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