Experiences, Not Failures and Losses

May 20, 2022
“There is no success without failures and losses,” said John C Maxwell.

This famous quote has always resonated with me. So much so in fact, that I have used it in my coaching, media interviews, and conversation with friends and family. I really believed that to succeed in our goals, you must become equally familiar with the negative side of them, as you are the positive side. That was until my mentor, who was counseling me on some professional and personal accolades, said to me, “There are no failures or losses. There are just experiences.”

Can you say, MIND BLOWN?

“Life is full of lessons. Sometimes we learn them the perceived easy way, and others, the perceived hard way,” she expanded.

The wisdom oozed out of my mentor as if she was reciting a line straight from a Jane Austen novel. I had to take a pause to reflect on this bomb that she had just dropped.

My mentor was so right (it makes sense that she is a mentor, huh?). It is all about our perception of our experiences that can define them as successes or failures/losses. 

It seemed rudimentary enough but, upon some reflection, what needed to change was my belief that failures and losses are a result of a lack of success. Thus, I needed to look closer at my definition of success.

Prior to this timely wisdom, I, like many others I know, defined success as a positive outcome to whatever action, thought, feeling, etc. in which I placed myself. My perception of success was a narrowed point of view that took success and placed it on a singular pedestal. This meant that failure was anything but what I had placed on the pedestal. Success was white, and failure was black. But, are things in life ever truly black and white? 

You may believe otherwise, but I have learned that there is quite a bit of grey area. In the grey lives all possible outcomes. Some outcomes I could never dream of, and others that ended up being even better than the success I had so narrowly envisioned. 

My perception that life is strictly linear (black and white) ends up being rather restrictive. After all, my mind creates attachments to outcomes, but many paths lead to the same destination. The grey is full of life and full of experiences that teach us, mold us, and sometimes shove us in the direction that is best. So though the mind may like to think linearly, I am now challenging myself to embrace the journey of grey and all its experiences that help me grow and evolve. 

What about you?

How are you living in the grey? What experiences have occurred in your life that took you away from the black and white? What valuable lessons have you learned that make you who you are today? 

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– Casey Edmonds, MPH, CHWC, CMS, CPT, CILC

Health Advisor | Email Casey

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