One definition of failure is an event or action that does not happen the way we want, like Demi Moore’s character trying to create a pot in Ghost (1990) and losing control of the spinning clay.
Of course, she and Patrick Swayze’s character had other pleasures to distract her from feeling too much like a failure.
[Note – The “Suggested Clips are automatically added by the clipping software, and are not related.]
Acting is a profession with repetitive experiences that can be labeled failure.
In his post “The Actor Who Succeeded By Failure” [on The Alchemist blog], Daniel Roach writes about “failing” at an audition:
“When I sat down and thought about losing that role it occurred to me that my failure was a learning experience. I lost that role because I wanted only to serve my own ego. I had lost sight of what role resonated with me as an actor and went straight for the role that was more glamorous to me.
“That was hubris and I saw that I had gotten what I deserved. In the end, I was given the part I needed, the part with resonance, and it truly was the best role for me.”
That is a great lesson for any endeavor. It may be hard to avoid having a vision and expectation for a particular outcome, and when that does not happen the way we have imagined, it often feels like a failure.
And that is really what makes something a “failure” – our feeling about it, based on our thoughts.
Actor Ellen Muth [who starred as George (for Georgia) in the Showtime series Dead Like Me admitted she related to her character in having low self-esteem, and feeling “like I haven’t accomplished anything, and she feels that way, too, like she never accomplished anything in her life.
“And I still feel like I haven’t made it anywhere, I haven’t done anything, and I’ll never get anywhere in life, and I’m going to be a failure my whole life. And I know in the rational part of my mind that it’s not true.”
Her resume confirms she is far from being a failure. At 14, she drew widespread attention with her portrayal of the young Selena in the film “Dolores Claiborne.” Her first starring role in feature film “The Young Girl & the Monsoon,” earned her the AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival Best Actress Award in 1999.
But many gifted and talented people have feelings like she has had, and are highly self-critical, which can lead to feelings of failure. More in my article Being Creative and Self-critical.
A related aspect is impostor feelings: “an emotionally debilitating condition characterized by persistent and unwarranted anxiety about achievement, dread of evaluation, fear of failure and exposure, inability to internalize success, and lack of enjoyment of accomplishment and achievement.” That is from a definition by the “Women’s Studies Encyclopedia, Revised and Expanded Edition” ed. Helen Tierney, 1999.
Failure is also a matter of other people’s judgments.
According to the book: Great Failures of the Extremely Successful: Mistakes, Adversity, Failure and Other Stepping Stones to Success, Elvis Presley was fired from the Grand Ole Opry after only one performance and told by the manager, “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. Better get y’all job back drivin’ a truck.” Oprah Winfrey was fired from her television reporter’s job, and told, “You’re not fit for TV.”
Actor Bryce Dallas Howard has commented, “I’ve learned to think in terms of having a long career. Actors can have very long careers that last until the day we die, but there will be moments when you’ll feel like you’re a failure or when you’re disappointed in yourself.
“I’ve learned from my dad that those feelings don’t mean you should stop what you’re doing. They mean you should try even harder; you should push even further. Perhaps because of failure, you’re getting even closer to your ultimate goal.”
In his article Think Like a Winner, Brian Tracy warns that “People who never achieve success do so because they fall in love with their excuses.”
He says the common obstacles to a positive attitude “are fear, worry, anger, and doubt. When things are not working out the way we had expected, our immediate response is to become fearful and uneasy.
“We are afraid that we will lose our money, waste our effort, or forfeit our emotional or physical investment in what we have done. If we are not careful, we start thinking of our potential losses rather than focusing on our potential gains.”
He goes on to note, “Successful people consciously choose to think about what they want, rather than what they don’t want. As a result, they are continuously taking action toward their goals, rather than spending their time thinking and worrying about the current difficulties or the inevitable challenges that are sure to face them.”
J.K. Rowling notes, “Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. So I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale.
From her Commencement Address at Harvard University. See more quotes and video in post: Failure and personal growth and achievement.
Article: Getting Past Fear of Failure By Kenneth W. Christian, Ph.D. – He writes: “Three fears lead directly to underachievement: fear of failure, fear of success, and fear of making a mistake. Any of these fears can paralyze initiative. When all three are working, initiative grinds to a halt.”