Would you like a side of failure with that?

“In the middle of 2009, he was the software engineer that no one wanted to hire. He had 12 years of experience at Yahoo, but he was rejected by Facebook and then rejected by Twitter. He’d been to a great university. he had a great CV. But he decided to team up with one of his alumni members at Yahoo and started to create an app and focus on the start-up space. In five years’ time, he sold that app for $19 billion to Facebook. Believe or not, that was Brian Acton, the co-founder of WhatsApp. When he was rejected from Facebook, he said it was a great opportunity to connect with some fantastic people and look forward to life’s next adventure. When he was rejected by Twitter, he responded by saying, ‘Worked out, it was a quite long commute.’ It’s so interesting to see that someone rejected from two of the top Internet companies actually responded with humor and actually responded with positivity.”

Source: Build a Life, Not a Resume by Jay Shetty

Last week, we looked at the importance of finding your passion, and we covered the Ikigai model, which provides a framework for finding your passion. After you get a lead or a spark on what you think could be your passion, you should pursue it. However, many don’t, and the difficulty lies in the human aversion to change.

You are comfortable with your current situation: You aren’t waking up filled with a sense of purpose and drive, but you’re also not scared. Besides, if you tell other people you plan to pursue more of that thing that you think might be your passion, they may advise you against it, telling you to think carefully about what’s realistic and what’s not.

We are afraid of making mistakes, afraid of being “behind”, afraid of failure. But we shouldn’t be. Here are three perspectives for “failure”.

Perspective #1: “We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.” — Seneca

When fears reside in the mind, they easily grow and paralyse you from taking action. Fortunately, managing anxiety is a skill that can be practiced and strengthened. In his Ted Talk, Why You Should Define Your Fears Instead of Your Goals, Tim Ferriss outlines a simple method for overcoming fears: Fear Setting. Here’s his three-page process.

On the first page, you have three columns. In the left column, trap your fears on paper by writing them down, specially the worst-case scenarios. This way, the fears can’t run rampant in your mind. In the middle column, write down how you can prevent or mitigate the risk of each fear. Finally, in the right column, write down how you can repair the damage or who you can ask for help should the worst-case scenario happen.

On the second page, write down the potential benefits of success, even if it’s only a partial success.

On the third page, which is perhaps the most important page, write down the cost of inaction on your life in 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years.

When it comes to pursuing your passions, chances are, the risk is much lower than the potential gains and the cost of inaction. The risks are likely more scarier in your head than on paper, and any potential damage is likely reversible. On the other hand, the benefits of even partial success would have huge positive impact on your life.

Perspective #2: “Sometimes, you need life to save you from what you want to get you what you need.” — Tim Ferriss

Previously, we had talked about being patient and appreciative to the world when things do not go as we wish. We should not be so attached to our idea of how things should be or how success should look like.

Jay Shetty explained it perfectly when he said “If we had it our way, we’d just settle. We’d just accept what we thought was our goal, what we thought we were chasing. But actually, I’ve noticed that when you don’t get that, later down the line you look back and you reflect and realize that what you’ve gained is so much greater… And that’s why Steve Jobs said ‘You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You only can when you’re looking backwards.”

Perspective #3: “Failures are only failures when we don’t learn from them, because when we learn from them, they become lessons.” — Jay Shetty

People pay tremendous amounts of money for education. Often, the better the education, the more it costs. Failures are the same. Failures are lessons in disguise. If you don’t reflect and learn from your failures, it’s like you paid all that tuition and you skipped all the classes. But if you had an expensive failure in your life, you now have a tremendous growth opportunity that few others have.

On The Tim Ferriss Show, Tim interviews the world’s top performs in all areas, including military, art, sports, and science. One question he always asks is, “What is your favorite failure?”, meaning what was a major failure that later set you up for greater success. It’s no coincidence that the world’s most successful people also had the most expensive failures and persevered past them.

So when you commit to pursing your passion, make sure to order a side of failure with it.

Passionate about self-cultivation, happiness, and sharing wisdom.