Embrace Failure, Cultivate Discipline

Patrick Poh
4 min readMay 19, 2024

Life is a series of peaks and valleys, triumphs and setbacks.

The phrase, “fail and you’re going to fail and you’re going to fail and then you’re going to win,” encapsulates a truth many of us shy away from accepting.

Failure is not just a possibility; it’s an inevitability.

Yet, it is through these very failures that we grow, learn, and ultimately succeed. Life without challenges is mere existence, and to simply exist is to deny oneself the richness of truly living.

Photo by name_ gravity on Unsplash

The Inevitability of Failure

Failure is a common thread in the human experience. It’s easy to romanticize success stories, overlooking the multitude of failures that paved the way. When we fail, it’s tempting to see it as a reflection of our worth.

Failure is not a verdict; it is merely a step in the process of growth.

To achieve anything meaningful, we must be willing to embrace the risk of failure. The path to success is rarely a straight line. It is filled with detours and setbacks. The crucial difference between those who ultimately succeed and those who do not lies in their response to failure. Some allow it to define them, while others use it as a stepping stone.

Existing is not the same as living

Existence is a passive state, whereas living requires action, engagement, and risk. Life’s challenges are not merely obstacles; they are opportunities to engage fully with our potential. Without them, we remain in a static state, deprived of the vitality that comes from striving and overcoming.

Inaction, often driven by fear of failure, can cost us more than the pain of failure itself. We should be one of action. Even when the path ahead is unclear, moving towards our challenges is essential. It is exactly in the struggle that we find growth. The struggle might be painful, but it is also where transformation occurs.

Freedom — achieving it requires Discipline.

Discipline is the bridge between our goals and their attainment. It might seem paradoxical, but discipline and freedom are intrinsically linked. The more disciplined we are, the more freedom we gain. This applies to every aspect of life — physical health, financial stability, time management, and personal growth.

Lack of discipline leads to constraints. Without the discipline to exercise and eat healthily, we become slaves to disease. Without the discipline to manage our finances, we become slaves to debt. Without the discipline to manage our time, we lose our freedom to enjoy life. Therefore, cultivating discipline is crucial for achieving true freedom.

Taking ownership of our lives

It involves acknowledging that our circumstances are largely the result of our actions (or inactions). This can be a painful realization, as it forces us to confront our shortcomings. However, it is also the first step towards meaningful change.

Blaming external factors — be it our upbringing, circumstances, or other people — only serves to keep us trapped. Excuses provide temporary comfort, but they do nothing to solve our problems. Extreme ownership means accepting that we are responsible for our successes and our failures. This mindset fosters growth, as it prompts us to take proactive steps towards improvement.

Persistence in the Face of Adversity

When faced with challenges, our natural reaction might be to quit. However, quitting only ensures failure. Persistence, on the other hand, increases our chances of success. This principle is vividly illustrated by the experiences of those who undergo rigorous training. Many who do not complete tough training often cite external reasons, but the primary reason for failure is quitting due to the difficulty.

Excuses provide a false sense of relief but do nothing to address the underlying issues. When we make excuses, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to grow. Confronting our failures head-on and persisting despite the pain is what leads to eventual success.

In Moments of Uncertainty, Taking Action is Crucial

Standing still in the face of challenges leads to stagnation. Movement, even in the wrong direction, provides new perspectives and opportunities for correction. When lost in the metaphorical woods of life, it is better to start walking than to remain paralyzed by fear.

Action combats paralysis. When we take steps towards our goals, we gain momentum. This momentum is vital for overcoming inertia and progressing towards success. The simple act of moving forward, regardless of the direction, breaks the cycle of inaction and opens up new possibilities.

The Pursuit of Balance

Balance is a recurring theme in achieving success. Extremes, whether in emotions, behavior, or actions, often lead to problems. Finding balance in all aspects of life is challenging but essential. It requires constant adjustment and self-awareness.

Balance does not mean mediocrity.

It means integrating various aspects of life harmoniously. In business, it means balancing innovation with stability. In personal life, it means balancing work with leisure. This balance leads to a more fulfilling and sustainable life.

Embrace the Journey

The journey towards success is fraught with failures and challenges. Embracing these elements is crucial for personal growth. Life without challenges is mere existence, and to truly live, we must engage fully with the risks and rewards that come our way.

Discipline, ownership, balance, and persistence are the pillars that support a meaningful life. By cultivating these traits, we not only improve our chances of success but also enhance our ability to live freely and fully. The road is not easy, but it is the struggle that makes the journey worthwhile. Embrace failure, for it is through failure that we ultimately find our path to success.

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