Success Through Failure 2 - Ask The Powerful Question

Jan 31

Success Through Failure 2 - Ask The Powerful Question

Fri, 01/31/2014 - 07:28 — Thabo Mokete

Failure has a way of bringing many questions to the mind, some of them tough and stressful. What is actually needed is an empowering question. The power of any question after failure is in bringing us to a point of understanding about what we need to succeed.

It is not uncommon after failure that thoughts of insecurity or even self-rejection kick in. Add to that the rejection by others comes, then one is left utterly in despair. At such a time, there can be little profit in trying to answer difficult and depressing questions. The most popular ones that I have heard people ask is "What went wrong?", or "Why me?" or "Was it not meant for me?"

As we can see, these questions are tough, but when we look closer, we find that they are actually stories in disguise. When I say "What went wrong", the story there could be that things are not what they are supposed to be. I was geared up for success, but something went out of order somewhere in the whole thing. That's why I failed.
If I say "Why me?", the story there could be that there has been a mistake in the system. This failure should happen but it happened to the wrong person.

If I say "Was it not meant for me?", the story could be that this success is something that comes by way of entitlement. Now I wonder whose child must I be, what title must I hold, or what reputation must I have to be worthy of this success?

Evidently these stories serve us well in the way of comfort, but can they help us move from the point of failure and bring about the success that we so much desire? It just seems that some of these questions make us further into victims of our own failure. It is one thing to fail, no matter how many times, but quite another to become a victim of that failure.
The victim of failure is in despair mode, throws everything away and goes about on the road to self-destruction. It does not have to be that way. Life grooms us through both success and failure. And we ought to learn to work with the failure too.

Rather, I propose an empowering question, such as: What have I not understood? What is the critical understanding that I have missed? The story behind this question is what we mentioned in part 1(The Meaning of Failure)1 - Failure results from a gap which can only be filled by understanding.

It is not that I am a bad person, immoral, or cursed. It is even not that I am wearing the wrong skin, that someone in the system hates me, or that my father made the wrong enemies. No. But I have missed something critical for my goal.

Let me single out two examples of this question. Suppose that my failure was a result of having misunderstood one of two things: position2 or capacity. Then the enabling question could become:
Am I correctly positioned for what I am trying to achieve?  Am I a man trying to get pregnant, or a farmer trying to grow bananas in the desert? Then I will keep failing till I understand that I am out of position2 for this thing that I want to achieve.

When I am incorrectly placed, positional failure is inevitable. The message we must get from positional failure is that one has moved away from his or her true identity. The things we want to pursue because of status need, "that's where the money is", or "that's what people your age do", family tradition, trying to fit in with a particular crowd, maybe with culture or religion, or what somebody on TV advised.

All positional failure is the cost of being out of touch with one's reality. When we begin to take the necessary steps to unplug from the false ideas of who we are, and start reconnecting with our own true identity, we start to move into position. There our hearts naturally desire things that flow from our true position. Then our action towards our goals become more fluid and the effort less painful.

It is not always true that growth should be preceded by pain. When we say "no pain, no gain", we simply recognize that we are often out of touch with true position and need the pain to motivate us to growth. When our hearts are at the right place, growth can be motivated by pleasure. Then success becomes inevitable. This does not mean that everything is easy. However, it does mean that whatever it takes, we will be happy to give it, whether it be endurance or patience or other such demand on the will.

The other form empowering question is that of capacity: Have I built enough capacity to succeed in this?  I may go to school and end up in grade 7, but then register for a grade 12 exam. Then I will keep failing till I understand that I need to build enough capacity in my knowledge base to be able to answer questions in grade 12.

There is a way of demanding success where one has not built the capacity to achieve it.  The acquiring of skills, the gaining of knowledge and the development of personal attributes like patience, persistence, or focus cannot be short-circuited. One must do the homework. Capacity failure sends a message: do your homework.

We can see from only the couple of examples that the point of failure is a powerful place to be in terms of the positive questions we can ask. It is the point from which success becomes possible, if we ask empowering questions.

These powerful questions can be summarized as one: What have I not understood that has caused me to miss the target?

1. Mokete, Thabo. Success Through Failure 1 - The Meaning of Failure. Thabo Mokete. 2012.
2. Mokete, Thabo. Dare To Be You Part 7 – Position. Thabo Mokete, 2012.