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168 – The Fallacy Of Failure…the other ‘F’ word


OK, what are we going to talk about today?  I think what I would like to talk about is the fallacy of failure.  The reason I call it a fallacy, is because the idea of failure, as a concept, is something that I don’t really believe in.  For me…it’s right there next to the easter Bunny.

I hear people all the time talk about, and refer to their failures.  The word “failure” is used very frequently in the english language, and I suspect in other languages as well. 

It kind of boggles my mind because, like I said, I don’t believe in failure.  So it’s like listening to people talk about unicorns and Easter Bunnies.  In fact, the word only visits my vocabulary at times like now…when I am explaining to someone the fallacy of it.

I always get the same reaction, and I’m sure many of you listening are reacting this was as well. 

You’re probably thinking;

“C’mon Alf, of course failure exists.  Every time you are unable to do something, whenever you don’t win, when you try something and it doesn’t work…all these things are failures.”

Is that what you are thinking?  That’s what most people think.  I personally do not think these examples of failure are accurate.  I’ll explain what I mean, and then you can decide for yourself.

First I will say, that everyone who makes an audible claim to have failed something…is probably right.  It is a self fulfilling prophesy.  Failure did not exist, it wasn’t real, it was just an idea right up until that person spoke it into existence and claimed it.  That is when failure becomes a real thing.

What I’m saying then, is that failure is more about perspective than anything else.  I’ll give you an analogy to better explain what I mean.

Lets say there are two guys, named Bill and Mike.  They are friends, and they decide one day that they want to climb a mountain…lets say it Mount Rainier here in the state I live in.

They have never climbed a mountain before, and that’s why they want to do it.  They do research and try to prepare for it as best as possible.

The day finally comes and they head up to climb the mountain.  They are doing pretty good, but about 2000 feet from the summit a bad storm comes in and they can’t see, they get off course.  When the weather clears they don’t know where they are.  In the process Bill got really sick and Mike tripped and hurt his ankle.  All they can do is sit there and hope their food doesn’t run out before somebody finds them.

They get rescued a couple days later, and now they are back at home.  The thing is…only one of these men have failed, even though they both had the exact same experience.

The only difference between Bill and Mike, is their perspective. 

Mike thought it was a fantastic experience.  he made a note of everything that went well, and the things that didn’t.  He values everything he learned on the trip, including the hardship.  Now he has a great story to tell his son when he is older, and Mike cannot wait until next season so he can tackle the mountain again.

Bill on the other hand is angry.  He thinks the whole thing was a waste of time and money because they didn’t accomplish what they set out to do; make it to the summit.  He is angry at himself and at Mike for being ill prepared.  He gets embarrassed whenever his wife brings it up to friends, because then he has to explain the details of why he failed to make it to the top.  He sold all his gear on craigslist and plans to never, ever climb again.

So, because of their perspectives, Bill had a failure, and Mike had an adventure.  Bill is unhappy, and Mike is Happy.  Mike has a great story to tell of courage, adventure, hardship and beauty.  All Bill has to talk about, is his failure.

Hopefully, with the aid of that story you can start to see what I am talking about.  It’s all a matter of perspective, and where does perspective come from? Perspective is formulated in our brains.  Who controls our brains?  We do.

I have had many, many things in my life not go as planned.    Times when I did not achieve the result I set out to.  Thankfully though, for some reason I never saw any of it as failure.  I certainly could have, and many people would have…but, I never did.

I may not have achieved the result I was looking for…but I always achieved a result, sometimes they were just different.  These different results often led to better understanding, and they reduce the chance of repeating things that didn’t go well in the future.

Where other people see failure, you should try seeing opportunity.  Because every single one of these times is where you will learn the most stuff.  We learn very little outside of the realm of mistakes, or what some people would call failure.  We learn very little when everything is going great.

I don’t remember when I started thinking this way, maybe I always did.  I do believe that thinking this way has made me a happier person in general.  It’s tough to be happy when you are beating yourself up over failing, when really all you need to do is change your perspective.

Like I said, you can decide how you want to be, it’s your life, but I strongly encourage you to be more like Mike, and less like Bill.

I would also encourage you to wipe the word failure out of your vocabulary…stop using it entirely.  Because every time you do, you turn it into a real thing.

Another great thing about treating it like a swear word that should never be uttered is…you will never make the mistake of telling your kids that they are a failure.  I wonder how many people have been ruined, from growing up being told they were failures their entire childhood.

See, thats how it works when you are a man.  The things we get rid of in our life, we get rid of in the lives of our family as well.  Just as the things we attract to us, we attract to our families by virtue of our proximity to them, and the role we have in their lives.

Just think…you could live the rest of your life never having another failure, if you change your perspective.

Some of you out there are probably still arguing with me in your mind…insisting that there are some legitimate, actual cases of failure.

Lets say there is an alcoholic guy, whose addiction is ruining his life and his family.  He goes to rehab, AA, everything he can think of trying to quit drinking…but, sadly his drinking continues.  Has he failed?

It depends on wether or not he thinks he failed, again…perspective.  If he says he failed to quit drinking then yes, he has failed.  Because saying he failed gives him an excuse to stop trying.  Think about it…if he never claims failure, that means he is still trying to quit, he isn’t done.

So, in a way…allowing yourself to fail robs you of the opportunity to improve, to become better, because if you have failed at something, you are no longer trying.  You are done…and it’s hard to get better if you are done.

I could go on and on with examples like this.  If you want to send me your own example just fire me an email, I would love to hear from you.

I would like to acknowledge my three most recent members of the launch team for my new book, Mitch, Landon, and Tom.  Thanks guys, I look forward to working with you on this.  I’m still looking for more people, there are slots left, so if you are interested send me an email to:

Now head out into the world without the ‘F’ word.  Leave it behind.  Refuse to fail at anything by changing your perspective with the force of your will.  Look for the lessons, learn all you can from every situation, be thankful for the opportunity and you will be a better man today, than you were yesterday.

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