Learning to Gain Strength though Failure

12799139_10154008627514264_5362681797015120554_nI have been thinking a lot about how Facebook breeds a sense of ever-present success, something I have fallen victim to as well. The “look at my awesome project” or #humblebrag posts are easy, and intoxicating – they help us both reflect satisfaction and garner praise. They share what we want to show – success, confidence, and progress. Well I am going to pass on that today, and say something I have been thinking a lot about.

I have been struggling with some ideas I have been working on that are not successful. I have missed some opportunities I thought were achievable, and I have made mistakes that have resulted in outcomes that failed to meet my goals. And I have had a sense that I have been overly optimistic about the chances of success, when the real indicators of failure were visible but not seen.

Yes, lots of things are going great, and lots of things are in the process of getting better. But some things just aren’t working – and they need to be rethought and reworked. I don’t buy the whole “let’s celebrate failure” thing – ’cause that’s not what I want to celebrate. But I do want to acknowledge it and find a way to be ok with it. Because when I fail to acknowledge things aren’t working, I fail to internalize the sense of self-limitation, I fail to appreciate the hard work its going to take succeed, and I fail to value the help of others that is necessary to compensate for my weaknesses. I realize it’s not the success that is going to make me stronger – not in any real sense. It’s the failures that will. So here’s to getting stronger…

Seth Cohen is a Senior Director at the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.