The Opportunist’s Guide To Failure

guide to failure

If you boil down most people’s challenges to one thing, it’s fear. And for most of us, it’s the fear of failure.

What happens if you fail at school? What if your business fails? What if you don’t make it as a professional athlete? How about failing in your relationships?

I could go on like that for a few hours. But have you ever ‘really’ thought about it? I mean in a practical way. What could happen if you fail?

Here are 3 scenarios — you decide which one’s the best.

1. The World Will End And Everybody Will Die

“OMG! This is the end of my life.” No, that’s not what only teenagers say. I’ve seen many adults make that statement. Hell, I’ve even said that in the past.

You might lose your job and think your career is destroyed. You might get bad grades and think that’s the end of your life. You might get dumped and think that you’ll be lonely for the rest of your life.

And while you’re at it, you think that it’s also the end of all people. Of course, right? You fucked up, and now we all have to pay for it.

You might not realize it, but thinking that all the world’s problems are yours is selfish. Most responsible people think that way.

But did you know that you’re not responsible for everything in the world? You’re only responsible for your own actions.

Honestly, the world’s not going to end if you fail. People are not going extinct. Please, do yourself a favor, don’t even think about that outcome.

2. Nothing Will Happen

A more likely scenario to your failure is that NOTHING happens. You try something, you expect an outcome, but that doesn’t happen.

The bottom line result? Nothing. Zip. Zero.

Maybe your business goes bust, a couple of people say you’re a loser, but so what? Do you really care about that? Just shrug it off and try again.

By that, I don’t mean ‘do the same thing’. That’s what idiots do. Try it differently the next time.

3. You Find An Opportunity

In Mastery, Robert Greene talks about how humans are opportunists. He says that we have a skill of sniffing out any opportunity in the environment and seize it. Greene says:

“Our entire brain and nervous system is geared toward looking for any kind of opening.”

And what can you do if you don’t have an opening? Force one by trying something, and see what happens.

Maybe you fail, maybe you succeed. No matter what the outcome is—be an opportunist. Try to turn every situation to your advantage, no matter how bad that situation might be.

Greene gives the example of our ancestors and how they created tools for hunting:

“Our most primitive ancestors did not begin with an idea in their heads for creating a tool to help them in scavenging and killing.”

500.000 years ago, one person probably said: “Ah man, our arms are just too short to kill certain animals. They’ll eat us alive.”

And then another person probably said: “How about grabbing a stick and a sharp piece of stone, tie it together, and BOOM; a spear.”

I don’t know how accurate that story is, but that’s how I imagine it.

One thing is sure: Humans had a problem, they failed (people probably died in that scenario), but they also found an opportunity to create a weapon.

Result: Humans win.

Failure Is Not A Thing

Most of us see failure as this huge thing. But failure is nothing more than a figment of your imagination. It’s your brain coming up with all these weird scenarios that probably will never happen.

Failure is just an outcome. Nothing more. What’s the alternative? Do nothing? If you can live with the regret of not trying, go for it.

The best way to fight the fear of failure is to become resourceful. Be the real life MacGyver (for the younger people, MacGyver was a TV-show character, who could escape from dangerous situations with random items like a piece of gum, a toothpick, or a paperclip).

Next time you fail, or when you find yourself in an unwanted situation, try to find a way to turn it into your advantage. That’s is not false optimism, that’s opportunism.

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