Failure is always an option, no matter what the undertaking. Everyone has failed at something at some point in their lives – a failed short-term relationship, a failed job, a failed college class, a failed attempt at a new hobby, etc. On a very basic level, these examples represent an “everyday” sort of failure – one that results in a little sting, a scream of frustration and maybe a few tears. Some of these can set you back a little on a specific path in life, and most people would say that they learn valuable lessons from these types of experiences. However, I would argue that the takeaways from these experiences, while valuable, don’t carry the weight of wisdom and understanding that one gains from an epic failure – a failed 20-plus-year marriage, a failed long-term career, financial ruin, etc. – those knock-the-breath-out-of-you, send-you-back-to-square-one types of failures.
Of course, no one wants to ever experience that type of failure, and most people carry the naïve mentality of “that can never happen to me.” But, those who undergo – and survive – those life-eroding experiences learn truths that simply cannot be understood by others. Here are just three truths that those who experience epic failure can learn.
No. 1: Epic failure is possible.
Failure takes on a whole new meaning when you’ve experienced the epic variety. The reality of heart-crushing defeat replaces the naivety of “it will never happen to me” in a way that will forever alter your approach to life. For once you know that this type of failure is possible, you will do anything you can to avoid it in the future. Future decisions will be made with a deeper wisdom than your “former self” was capable of, and risks may still be taken but with a completely different mindset.
No. 2: Determination, endurance and faith are THE keys to success in life.
Those who have experienced – and overcome – epic failure know that a comeback is possible. But, it takes time – sometimes a really long time. While failure seems to sweep in at the blink of an eye, the journey that follows defeat is long, hard and seemingly impossible at first. In order to execute “the comeback,” it takes a determination to rebuild, the strength to endure the long process, and complete faith that you will succeed. Once you’ve learned these disciplines, you have the keys to thrive for the rest of your life.
No. 3: The comeback story beats out any other success story.
Success is enjoyable on any level, but the sense of accomplishment and deep confidence gained after a comeback is truly unmatched. Honestly, anyone who can simply survive an epic failure and just keep going is someone who deserves a pat on the back. It’s hard to accept a huge defeat, a tragic heartbreak or a major setback. It rips into your confidence, tears up your pride and sucks hope right out of your heart. And, it takes a lot to stand up, dust yourself off and start the climb back up the mountain. But, when you find yourself back at the top – sometimes after years of climbing – the feeling is…well…epic.
I can speak to all of this from experience, even though I would say that I’m still on the climb and therefore not ready to share the details of my comeback story. I’m high enough up the mountain to experience the thrill of overcoming big failures in areas of my life that I didn’t think were possible. And, while my comeback story is still in the making, I’m always happy to use – and share – what I’m learning on this journey because they have certainly been some of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned.