The Measure of Success

The Measure of Success

Written By: Krista Keil

Ah, the month of January. The start of a new year is often the cause for a lot of buzzwords: the time for a fresh start, new year, new goals, new me, right? Personally, l’ve always had a bit of an unresolved dilemma with New Year’s “resolutions.” That said, I believe goals are important. Furthermore, I believe the process of reflecting upon the prior year’s triumphs, failures, and life events have the potential to advance one’s personal growth and development.

Recently, I was in conversation with a friend about making New Year’s goals, and they replied, “I don’t make New Year’s goals because I know I’m going to fail at them anyway.” It got me thinking: how many people feel this way? I imagine it’s a thought that plagues many of us, because, let’s be honest, we all know resolutions are made and a good chunk of us fall off the bandwagon a few months in. As I continued to reflect, I realized it’s not that people don’t want to make goals, but rather that they’re afraid to fail. What would it look like if our goal was to work on overcoming our fear of failure?

This thought triggered a barrage of questions, a couple being: why is it that we associate a botched attempt as failure? How do we calibrate the measure of our success? I found these questions sparked powerful opportunities for reflection as I rang in a new year. So, I seized the opportunity.

My life experience has taught me that if getting something right on the first try is how success is defined, then we’d never summit the mountain peak: repeated failure and the perseverance to try again is crucial in determining one’s achievements. Afterall, many revered individuals “failed” many times over before they achieved success: it took Thomas Edison thousands of attempts to refine the light bulb; Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard only to become a billionaire; Oprah Winfrey worked on several news shows that “flopped” and was demoted from an anchor role prior to developing her hit talk show; Michael Jordan has spoken about how various “failures” were an essential part of his success, stating he lost over 300 NBA games and missed over 9000 shots while in the NBA.

These stories exemplify that despite what society says or how we may feel, “failure,” isn’t final. Rather, it’s a matter of perspective. Perhaps what we need to do is recalculate how we define and measure our failures and successes. It’s a subtle, and yet, major shift in how we live our daily lives. What would it look like if we learned to accept our failures gracefully? I’ve often found that those who acknowledge and accept their failures are often the strongest leaders: they have learned to transform their “failures” into learning opportunities and a means to cultivate virtue. From my perspective, there are only two ways to fail: if you never try, and if you give up. So this year, I challenge you to give up the fear of failure. What fear is holding you back from taking the next step, setting your dream goal, or doing that thing you’ve always wanted to do? Give. it. up. Instead of viewing every botched attempt as “failure,” view it as a stepping stone toward success. It’s never too late to start anew.

While failed attempts can be challenging, it’s the beliefs we hold about ourselves upon enduring setbacks that influence our motivation. In reality, each of us has the capacity to overcome obstacles with a little grit and perseverance, if we put forth the effort. Sometimes, the only thing holding you back is yourself. As Michael Jordan is known for saying, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.




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