We all have some idea of what the word failure actually means, however we all consider different things failures. One definition of failure is “The condition or fact of not achieving the desired end or ends.” Another definition is “The condition or fact of being insufficient or falling short.” I think everyone would agree with these definitions, but would disagree on insufficient or falling short means, and therefore disagree on exactly what is a failure.
For example, a straight A student may consider a B a failure, while a straight C student would consider it a success. Therefore, we know that failure is a relative term. But how do we know that the A student might not have been able to do better? This means that only we truly know if we are putting in our best effort. But sometimes we can still put in our best effort and fail, so should that be considered a success for maximizing our potential or a failure for not meeting a certain standard? Likewise, if we don’t put in effort and still succeed, should it be considered a failure on our part? Is it possible for these to be both successes and failures?
Another question to consider: Is avoiding circumstances in which failure is possible actually a failure because we didn’t try or simply a lack of the opportunity to succeed? If you don’t enter a contest that you could have won $1000 in, that could be considered a failure by taking the opportunity to succeed. Is lack of success equivalent to failure? Is it possible that something can neither be success nor failure? Not all situations are black in white. In certain social situations, there is no right or wrong sometimes, and therefore it is hard to define success or failure. We must contruct our own standards in order to know how to succeed.
There are two main sources of knowledge for failure. We know what failure is from the rules and standards set up around us on an objective level, and on a subjective level we hold ourselves to personal standards based on beliefs about our capabilities. Sometimes these may be hard to define, but over time experience helps create a structure for our potential.
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