Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Failure Equals Victory

A title such as this is always risky, as a writer can either immediately lose a reader or hook them for the entire section, regardless of the content. The title is an off shoot from the bible- you know, "the last becomes first and first becomes last", or "extreme bad equals good and extreme good equals bad". No matter how you, the reader, looks at it, there is something eccentric in the meaning of the title, and that's the reason you should read this article. Who knows, you may even enjoy it.

Around 1990 I wrote and published a book titled Problemology: The Science of Dealing With Problems. The premise of the book was that most people are not equipped emotionally to handle problems when they arise. Most people "hope" problems don't come (which is hardly a fool-proof strategy). When a major problem arises, these people have no game plan to fall back on. All decisions now become emotional in nature, rather than logical and strategized. As always, when your emotions are in the drivers seat, watch out.

Anyway, I feel that human beings need to mentally exercise as well as physically exercise to become totally strong (both mental and physical strength). This book teaches mental exercises that allow a person to "prepare" for problems. For example, if you walk out of your house on a rainy Monday morning, late for work, and you see you have a flat tire, the typical response would be to cuss, kick and swear. You'd yell at your spouse, hurt yourself while trying to change the tire, argue with fellow employees all day, etc. Now, for long term wellness, the correct way to handle this would be the following: always identify the problem, (the car has a flat tire), remember that life is an imperfect journey and that misfortunes will always pop up when least expected, correct the problem (change the tire) and thank God that your misfortune on this day was not more catastrophic. The way to get good at developing this mindset is to approach every problem you face, starting right now, with this attitude. Believe me, it takes practice. It's always easier to "react", but as the book explains, far less productive.

So now, admitting that life is a rocky journey and our goal is to have the most enjoyable, stress free trip we can have, how on earth does "failure equal victory"?.

In our competitive society, we are continuously encouraged to win at all costs and look for immediate gratification. Combining these objectives, you could say we're encouraged to win in the short term. Such as today, not tomorrow. So if you lose today, some may perceive this as failing. Failing, (or perceived failing), like rejection, is more apt to keep people from going after their dreams than even a severe physical disability would in many cases.

This is exactly why we need to turn the kaleidoscope of life and view this picture differently. Winning should never be only in the short term, it should be desired in the long term. And the best way to win in the long term is to be willing to fail in the short term. After all, there is no better teacher than experience. While most are taught to hang their heads because of defeat, a more productive response would be to rush home to the drawing board and plan the next strategy. Now you have more information to plug into the computer. You're an expert at what didn't work.

This approach, plus persistence is the old tried and true recipe for long term success. Persistence will win. Most people don't have the ability to be persistent due to boredom, distractions or fear of failing. But, long term victory is far superior to short term victory and defeats will always help to teach the necessary tools and techniques to enjoy victory in the long term.

In conclusion, life is a continual series of victories and defeats. The mere fact that you breathe means you are a prime candidate to fail at something somewhere along the way. He who can develop the ability "act" instead of "react" will stand a much greater chance of having a smooth and enjoyable trip through life. Winning is simply the ability to smile, care about others, help others, maintain persistence in your goals and keep things in perspective.

This is why running is the greatest activity in the world. It simulates real life in so many ways. Even if you're in the Achilles Track Club or wheelchair bound, anyone can relatively improve to feel better about themselves. You can set your own rules to the game. You don't have to win the race, you only have to win your race. Any failure, which is really just a stepping stone to long term victory, is only failure if you quit.

As comedian Jim Belushi said in one of his illustrious roles, "Never, never, never lose your sense of humor". Keep running and enjoy every day. After all, just like the marathon, it's only mental!

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