The Fear of Failure and my 100% Failure Hypothesis
The Fear of Failure
“Failure simply means that you are trying” this was a quote uttered by one of the most inspirational persons I have had the pleasure of interacting with Mr. Michael Flynn. He spoke with immense conviction and belief you would think him insane all the while your heart oscillating in tandem with the vibrations of his voice. What was even more unbelievable was when he explained to us the story of his life, a life that resembled a James Bond movie or the highly rated Netflix thriller Narcos packed with crime and guns, than that of a later entrepreneur and philanthropist. However, what was striking about all this was that it seemed as if his failures were not an obstacle for him but in fact something to be proud of. As a point of strength rather than weakness. Indeed, initially on hearing his story I found it too good a story to be true; the classic rags to riches phenomenon cliché. After all, I couldn’t imagine such a humble bonhomie man full of grace and panache could be capable of such insidious acts. Maybe it was the allure of the foreign and the new that shrouded everything he said and did with a strange mix of trust and mystery or maybe it was because he was from a different race. Or maybe it’s the Australian accent in the way he talked? (Maybe it’s an American accent, can’t exactly tell the difference) After all, he is the second European that I have had the pleasure of knowing past the superficial greetings and pleasantries, the first being my primary school headmistress who was cold and distant as juxtaposed with Flynn’s warmth and ebullience
It is this thought that sparked a beau cop of different thoughts and soliloquies in my head all of them making rampant chaotic collisions in my mind. It was in the depth of this chaos that an ethereal epiphany dawned on me. The millionaires of today a great deal of them make millions implementing strategies and principles that are contrary to the fold. Contrary to the norm. Whereas the normal man spends a lifetime conforming their lives to the standards and principles set by society; principles that have served to stagnate society rather than progress it, standards that encourage uniformity and not distinction; they spend their lives breaking the norms. Going against the tide. Following the aphoristic ‘path less trodden.’ They see what the rest do not see or at least are too blind to see.
Hypothesis on 100% Failure
I just finished reading the book the Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self by Philosopher Thomas Metzinger and I have to confess this is the best book I have ever read so far. It changed my entire perspective on life. I haven’t been writing book reviews of late since they are quite involving and they are not so much in demand as compared to the course centered material I provide in this blog, however, today I will make an exception even though I will have to work myself to the bone to make it work. Metzinger posits that the concept of the soul or the little man in the brain is all but a fallacy and we are all but a series of interconnected neurons within the nervous system. He further states that there is no thing, no indivisible entity that is us, neither in the brain nor in some metaphysical realm beyond this world. According to him, our deepest sense of self is completely dependent on our brain functioning nothing more and nothing less. He further states that we are all gazing through a tunnel. He refers to this tunnel as a metaphor for conscious experience hence conscious experience is like a tunnel. Through the use of modern neuroscience Metzinger reveals that our conscious experience is but an internal construct that is a bias and quite a selective method of interpreting and representing information and that is why it has been referred to as a tunnel. A tunnel that is our lives. And the most surprising thing is, this tunnel is our own creation, an evolutionary mechanism by the brain in order to keep us fixated on the necessary and filter out the superfluous, so that we may be better suited for survival. Therefore, what we see and what is essentially reality are two different things. Hence our conscious model of reality in essence is a low dimensional projection of an inconceivably far richer physical reality which surrounds and sustains us. Therefore, as the author states the perplexing nature of conscious experience is fundamentally not so much an image of existing reality but merely a tunnel through which we view reality. Long story short the world is more of subjectivity more than objectivity (more in-depth book review coming soon). Do not get me wrong I am not dismissing the pertinence of objective realities and facts, they are equally important and even in certain instances are even more important than subjectivity; however, subjectivity is the difference maker. A good example of this mind over matter phenomenon is Steve Jobs. In the biography of Steve Jobs written by the illustrious and enigmatic Walter Isaacson, his workmates recall that Steve had a propensity to have his own conception of reality. They called this the Reality Distortion Field (RDF). In this world Steve’s ideologies and theories were what worked and even though it is this worldview that eventually led to his death from pancreatic cancer due to his refusal to take the doctor’s advice and immediately undergo an operation instead of relying on alternative means of treatment, he was still able to live quite an inspirational life. What is the method in the madness behind this bloviating of facts and theories? The crux of my entire confabulation is this-Whereas reality matters your perspective matters more. It is how you view failure that matters nothing more nothing less. The problem is that being social animals that we are, we have a binary view of the world. To love positivity and to hate negativity, to love Jesus and to hate the devil, to love white and hate black, when this is not the case. According to the tunnel theory there is no good or bad, no success or failure, no black or white they are all a manifestation of energy. The first law of thermodynamics reckons that energy cannot be created nor destroyed, it can only be transformed from one form to another and that is how we ought to look at failure. We should look at failure as energy that does not exalt but humbles, as energy that does not reward but disciplines, as energy which teaches and not entertains. At times we need the firm hand of failure to get us on the right path instead of the comforting embrace of success. And isn’t that the best result? Isn’t it worth striving for as an end in itself? To learn humility, to grow in discipline, to be a student taught in the school of life’s unfathomable wisdom? Society has our mind wrapped in an exquisite etui shell of linearity instead of duality as advocated in the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle and the Schrödinger’s cat experiment (due to time and length I will expound on these principles later). What then is failure if not backward propulsion? If it is propulsion then it can be redirected and utilized like a rocket that first moves backwards to gain momentum for forward propulsion. This is my greatest desire, my greatest goal in life to fail 100% in life as once you have failed 100% you can fail no more. You have nowhere to go but up. You have learned all the lessons you need to learn, you have been fully cooked in the scorching hot water of life as if a coffee bean changing the hot water itself and not succumbing to it and coming out stronger like a phoenix from the ashes. Like the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:7-8 “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.” Thus shouldn’t that be the goal? To fight the good fight? To finish the course? To keep the faith? Should the goal be the crown of righteousness or fighting the good fight? I lean towards the latter as Steve Jobs instilled in his Apple employees, “The journey is the reward.”
100% failure thus ends when you eventually succeed (Of course this involves learning from the failures and mistakes of others and not repeating them for the sake of failure). That is when you have reached the 100% mark. That is when the system is secure, that is when the system can be replicated and yield even greater fruits. Because I have come to believe that success is not about getting a beautiful wife, or living in a big fancy house or travelling the world and going from city to city. That is not what our narrow existence is about. Success is when you have a system that cannot fail. It is a perfected system that if given to another human being he can replicate the same success you are having if not better. But in order to reach this level of a perfected system one has to trudge on through copious amounts of disappointments and experimentation in order to know what works and what doesn’t work and adjusting your system accordingly. Finagle’s First Law: If an experiment works, something has gone wrong. I find life to be at times like a game of soccer in the English Premier League. A successful coach is not the one who doesn’t lose games but is the one who has a successful system for winning games. The genius of Jose Mourinho or Pep Guardiola is in mastering a system for success and through experimentation of trial and error perfecting the system in such a way that they keep on being the top coaches in their fields. And yes this involves the 100% model of failure because in order to know what works you also need to know what doesn’t work otherwise your success will be skewed on luck not on fundamental non-changing truths and strategies. “If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; … if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle. “-Sun Tzu The Art of War
Success is about replicating success. Like in music, when it comes to success you don’t make a hit song then you become a musical success, that simply lifts you up until the next phase when the eyes of the entire world are on you and you simply cannot replicate the success you had earlier on in your career. To be a successful artist you need to replicate success again and again and again. Same thing in life you have to work hard and achieve success on day one, day two, day three, day four until the final day. And often a times it involves falling down a couple of times but again if you have the mindset that you are meant for the ground you will not only remain on the ground but you are not deserving of the sky in the first place! Be that as it may, if you have the mentality that you belong to the sky with the Eagles then the sky is yours for the taking.