Since childhood (or the time when we were all artists) , we have been programmed to perceive failure as a non-viable option.
Something that needs to be avoided , dreaded and is socially unacceptable
“If you fail at <x> exam, you will end up being a failure in life” , constraints like this are slapped onto us.
As a result, failure becomes very closely knit with shame,guilt and inexplicable discomfort
Talking , atleast in a professional work environment context, these constraints not only influence the decisions we make professionally but also dictate the narrative through which we articulate our achievements ( or side step risks that might lead to failures)
I “failed” recently, I made a significant emotional and physical investment in a career move . The career move did not work out , I ended up ( still am) being without a job within couple of months of that career move.
What have I learnt from this experience ?
The world will not end . It really does not .
Your kids will continue to be carefree and look upto you for being a role model
Your father will continue to annoy you for remote IT support
The nature and your direct environment will continue to be tumultuous ,presenting you the same challenges as before with disregard of your current LinkedIn status
2. The world will change though
Your career path will be foggier now
Your financial situation will present significant physical and mental stress
You will drop your kids in your jammies
You will seek refuge in immediate relief ( in things ranging from alcohol, to taking up the first plausible employment opportunity)
You will feel that regret is your middle name
Because, we have been programmed to not fail .
Because, quitters never win
Because, it would look bad on my CV
Because , underneath all this,we allow ourselves and our successes to be “seen” through metrics that someone else created ,rather than us.
We stole those metrics and applied them to ourselves,our careers as if they were ours.
It is not only our prerogative but a life-duty ,to choose our own metrics of our success rather than be led by a third party yardstick.
Hence,time to choose the option of failing .
Hence,time to reflect and ask if the world could matter in different ways ?
Which leads to my third learning ,
3. The world ,now, will matter in different ways
You will stop fearing venturing into professional and personal territories ( that you only had watched from the fringes)
You will question your existing decision making parameters and biases
You will shun some of your existing metrics of success, might adopt couple new ones
You will realize the irrationality of your fears
You will strengthen existing professional and personal bonds
You will form new professional and personal bonds
You will realize that the safeguards or needs that you had constructed from being gainfully employed are faux or misconstrued
and , most importantly
You will realize that you are only able to challenge your mindset or confront your fears or topple the apple cart of your beliefs, because for you ,the world is mattering in different ways now
It will continue to matter to you in further different ways throughout your life
You just need to continuously keep challenging your norms, keep refining what you define as success and what you classify as failure or to even consider whether there is value in classifying at all !?