You have no idea what I’m talking about. Addiction to failure, you say??! That’s crazy! We’re all desperate to AVOID failure!!!
And why is that exactly? Somewhere deep down, we intellectually understand that failure is temporary. We know that when we fall, eventually we get up, dust ourselves off, and get going again. So why are we so @$=*&#% afraid of failure?
Because we’re addicted to it. While we avoid any chance of our own failure, we’re addicted to watching someone else’s failure happen.
Think about this for a minute. Why do 5 lanes of freeway slow down to look at a wreck on THE OTHER SIDE of the freeway? Why do people stand watching (and now recording on their iPhones) people having a knock-down crazy sobfest in the middle of the street? When someone is getting reamed at work for a mistake they made, why is everyone else straining to hear every last word? We can’t wrench our eyes (or ears) away.
And here’s the thing. We’re not crazy, mean-spirited a-holes who want other people to be miserable failures (which is kind of what this sounds like so far).
Watching someone else fail – and keep going – does two things for us.
First – it visually plays out what we all fear, the things we’re afraid to make a reality in our own life. And it reminds us – it is possible. That girl who climbed the enormous diving board at the local pool, teetered on the edge for a moment too long while she harbored the thought that she made a huge mistake, and then took that plunge…and then belly flopped? She just showed us what’s possible. She flopped – but she did it.
And second – it inspires us, knowing what can happen to someone, and where they can still go from there. You know your friend who while, in the midst of getting a divorce after a tumultuous year, lost his job and then got into a car accident? Watching him pick himself up, nurse himself (maybe with the help of friends and family) back to the living, take a few jobs he (and you) probably never thought he’d take, get his car fixed, and rebuild a new life and a stronger sense of self – you can’t help but watch that from the sidelines and cheer with tears running down your face. We want the underdog to win. We want others who are going through tough times to find their way above water again. Because it reminds us – failure is temporary.
And when it’s temporary, it’s not nearly so scary.
What is your failure that will captivate and inspire someone else?