Failure is a Dot

I gave something up.

Something that I was passionate about, a project that I’ve put two years of my time and effort into. It had reached a point where my involvement in it was beginning to hold it back. I didn’t have the skills or experience to take it through the next stage of growth.

I know that starts to sound like a “child-parent” metaphor, but that wasn’t what it felt like.

It’s more like starting to climb a mountain, and getting about halfway up, blazing a trail…and then realizing that in order to blaze the rest of the way up, you have to let some other skilled mountaineers go by. The goal is to create a path that everyone can use, but whoever ends up on the peak with that flag…it won’t be me.

That’s hard for a socially uncultured middle-aged white male personal development blogger to take.

In fact, it kind of looks and feels a lot like what they call “failure.”

The Right Words at the Right Time

On the other hand, one of the benefits of being a personal development blogger is that you have a lot of tricks and defenses when your brain starts to tell you a story you don’t like. And I was doing pretty well, but it was a struggle…until a very dear friend sent me a message:

Failure is just a dot for you.

I had to blink back tears when I read it – mainly because this is something that I really needed to hear a long, long time ago. In fact, I dare say that if I’d internalized that concept long ago, I might not have needed to write a personal development blog to fight my own demons.

Failure is a dot. Just one dot on a long and beautifully complex line of your life, with intersections and tangents and connections beyond the scope of our understanding. That’s the thing that self-help books miss, when they talk about making you a “winner” or a “success”. They pretend this is some movie, with the inspiring final shot (maybe with a sunset and orchestral music) and when you’ve “done it” there will be credits.

Here’s a hot tip: there are no credits. Just changes of scene. Just “meanwhile, back in…” moments mixed in with a whole lot of “Little did they know…”. Failure – and winning – is just a dot.

What comes next is up to you.

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