At firstsight failure and success are simple opposites. To fail is not to succeed, and success is the absence of failure. But closer examination reveals a complex relationship between these two concepts and they are not mere antonyms. Understanding how they relate together offers important insights into the nature of failure and how it should be approached. There are two important relationships to consider between failure and success. Firstly, failure starts where success ends, and it defines the limits of success. But secondly, success often follows failure, since it frequently occurs after other options have been tried and failed.
The development of the expanded Success-Failure Ecocycle reflecting the yin yang nature of the topic leads to one important conclusion. It is a mistake to think of failure as "A Bad Thing". Instead it has a range of negative aspects alongside several positive attributes.
These can be summarized into the following ten key characteristics of failure:
Failure is natural. Failure is an intrinsic part of life, as illustrated by the natural laws of competition and survival of the fittest.
Failure is inevitable. Perfection is an illusion, a 100% success rate is unattainable, and there will always be more failures than successes.
Failure is learning. Failure teaches us where further effort would be wasted, and encourages us not to repeat the same mistakes in the future.
Failure is directional. Failure closes off some potential paths of action, and leaves others open or untried, encouraging us to try something different.
Failure is stimulation. Failure encourages the human competitive spirit to beat the odds and bounce back with renewed effort, and challenge us to step outside of our comfort zones and experiment, be creative, innovate.
Failure is fun. Accepting the possibility and likelihood of failure gives freedom to think outside the box, act unconventionally, challenge norms and stereotypes, and be different - which can be very enjoyable.