Thomas Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “how did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The lightbulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
Society has taught us that failing is a bad thing. A bad grade on your math exam. Losing the big championship game. Signing divorce papers. The moments of motherhood where you shake your head and think “maybe I am not cut out for this.” The moments where we want to sink into our own little pity party and feel sorry for ourselves because we didn’t meet a certain non-existing status quo. Normally, after we are finished wallowing, we sweep our mistakes and failures under the rug until the next time it happens. Is this vicious cycle really beneficial to getting us to where we need to be?
What if I told you that failure is not a roadblock to your destiny but just a nudge to help you get to the right destination?
I know firsthand this concept is a lot easier said than done. Almost four years ago, I sat sobbing on my friend’s bathroom floor, staring at two little pink lines on a pregnancy test. I sat there feeling like the biggest failure. I was brought up by two Christian parents who waited ten years after they were married to have their first and only child. Trust me when I say, seeing those two little pink lines out of wedlock made me feel like the “failure queen.” I remember thinking, “well I guess my life is over, there’s no way I can hide this mistake. Everyone is going to know and judge me.” Instead of thinking of the precious life growing inside me, all I could focus on was how I had messed up big time and the shame that was going to come with it from my family.
Isn’t this something that we all do when we fail or make a mistake? When our failures are staring us right in the face, we only worry about the consequences and what others are going to think of us. We never think about the benefits that could possibly result from our current situation.
We will never succeed in any aspect of our lives if we’re only viewing our failures and mistakes as fatal.
Those two little pink lines didn’t make me a failure even though, at the time, it sure felt like it. Those pink lines were actually my invitation to come back to life. What felt like my biggest failure was actually my biggest calling. Being a mother to the two brightest little boys I’ve ever seen is something I never planned for, but it is definitely something I know I was destined to be. Needless to say, I’m so thankful I’ve learned that failures or mistakes don’t mean it’s the end of the road. Sometimes, it’s just time to switch lanes.
Whether you’ve failed ten times or one thousand times, I encourage each and every one of you reading this to embark on this journey with me. Let’s strive to turn our failures into redirections. Let’s set goals and be stubborn about reaching them and flexible with our methods of getting there. So the next time you feel like the “failure queen” just remember everyone has felt that way, and it doesn’t mean it’s time to give up. It’s just time to find a different route.
Join the conversation: What has been one failure that you thought was a roadblock that turned out to be a good thing for you down the road?