There is a common problem that many people face when they encounter the pain associated with failure (especially when it is a direct result of their own actions). They begin to fall prey to the illusion that they don’t have what it takes or that they are simply incapable of doing things right.
But when they jump to this conclusion they are making a fatal error. They are neglecting one of the most innocent traits that we are capable of possessing: Intention.
No one ever sets out with the mission of losing on purpose and we surely do not go about our days with the mindset that failure feels good. Yet, we consistently beat ourselves up and proclaim that we are useless when we make mistakes.
Why? Because we fail to remember our intentions. Here’s what I mean…
One of the best ways I can think of for explaining the importance of knowing your intentions can be explained via what athletes know best: working out.
Let’s say you went to bed last night and woke up this morning feeling terrible. You try to get up and almost fall down because your legs feel like jelly, you can’t lift your arms above your head and you can hardly even brush your teeth, and your internal organs feel like you got punched in the gut over a bazillion times. If you woke up today feeling like this and didn’t have any sort of explanation as to why – you would be a little concerned. You might even go check yourself into the hospital on the grounds of internal bleeding.
Now, you’re in the exact same scenario with all the same pain, however, this time the only difference is that the day before you went through your first full body workout of the season, after spending a month away from the gym. If you woke up feeling the same way, you are guaranteed to have a different interpretation of what exactly happened. You might be upset that you are so sore, but still, you know that you feel this way because that’s what was supposed to happen. It’s normal, it’s expected and it’s part of the process.
The rest of life works the exact same way. Except, the only difference is that the arrival of pain is a little more challenging to predict. And this is where the importance of understanding intentions truly begins to matter. If you set out to do something worthwhile, notable, or respectable, but fail along the way, you inherently still know that you are moving in the right direction. But what we often neglect or forget is that a certain amount of pain is required to achieve anything worthwhile.
Nothing great has ever been accomplished without failure and setbacks. I mean just this past week Elon Musk launched the most powerful reusable rocket into space, EVER!
But he didn’t do it on the first attempt.
In fact, he failed over and over until SpaceX finally saw some incremental wins with smaller rockets. It was a build up that started from an idea and required a lot of failures to get things right. Musk never intended to fail, but he was prepared for it.
We have to think the same way.
Pain, failure, setbacks, loss, injury, and frustration – these are all part of what makes things challenging, exciting, and worth pursuing. If it were easy and predictable, we would all be millionaires and all-star athletes.
But we’re not. And this is largely because not everyone is willing to endure the pain.
So, to better understand your intentions and grasp what you are aiming for, let me ask you three questions:
- In your most recent failure, what were you intending to do? What went wrong?
- What failure are you currently dealing with that you knew was part of the process?
- What pain are you willing to endure today?
Take some time to today to genuinely understand what your intentions are and recognize that any pain you endure is part of the process.