Failure to Success



Both failure and success are fairly ambiguous terms. They take on their meaning based on the context in which they are used and the goals of the people using them. In today’s materialistic culture, success and failure are often defined in terms of material loss or gain, or achievement of position, status and popularity.


Those of us who take a slightly less materialistic approach to life may think (as I initially did) that we can escape all the stresses normally associated with these two words. However I have come to realise that failure and success are both inevitable experiences we must all pass through if we are to have any goals, aspirations or intentions at all. They result from participating in life…at whatever level. As soon as we have a desire for a particular outcome in anything we do, we are setting ourselves up for either success or failure.


So does that mean we should never have any desires or goals?


Surely not. We need goals in order to establish a sense of direction; in order to orientate ourselves and give meaning to our actions. I have found that without goals, confusion results from not knowing how to channel my energy. Never the less, I do see one ‘problem’ with goal setting…


As soon as we fixate on a particular outcome in any situation, we instantly cut out millions of other possibilities…We focus on one specific idea of what success should look like, and because we associate success with only that outcome, we inevitably overlook the success that comes in different forms.


I call these the ‘unintended outcomes’…those things that happen or emerge out of our actions, which bring benefit in ways we could not have expected.


One way of avoiding the problem of fixation is to try to recognise the goals beneath the goals. This means understanding what I really want, at the deepest level…at the level of inner experience.


I have experimented with this and found that if you unpack anything you do (and I mean anything!), right down to the most basic level, you will always find a desire for one of three fundamental human experiences: peace, love or happiness.


If we were to realise and accept that at the core of all our goals lies a desire for an inner experience, we would find that we are able to orientate ourselves without fixating on a particular outcome. We would be able to remain open to all possibilities, whilst still holding a clear aim or purpose for our actions.


I suppose one might then ask: ‘if these ‘inner experiences’ become the goal, surely I’m setting myself up for the same problem as before? Surely that means if I get angry, worried or sad that would make me a failure?’


The difference is simple.

My inner experiences are determined by my perception of a situation.

I think we’ve all experienced a time when the same situation looked at from a different angle suddenly takes on a whole new dimension. Very often the learning, the growth and the insights we gain from what appears to be a failure, turn out to be the very thing we needed to move closer to those inner experiences we’re all after.


This ability to change perspective, to open my eyes to the ‘unintended outcomes’, is of course not always so easy. It sometimes requires patience, or the power to let go, or a deepened sense of self-worth.


But to use every failure as an opportunity for drawing on my own real strength and power is actually the beginning of a very beautiful new freedom. It is the beginning of a life free from fear. It is the beginning of deep self-trust. Life becomes a great adventure as I realise that I have nothing to lose!


There is a very basic (perhaps rather unscientific!) idea that has been like a quiet mantra for me recently… the underlying energy of the universe is love. For me, this means that everything that happens is ultimately benevolent…it is there to help me, to support me, to enable me to expand myself and uncover my potential.


Although it is difficult to see this in the midst of challenging situations, adopting this ‘aerial perspective’ view of things has helped me to create a space where I am more able to accept the things that have happened, and gradually work towards a deeper understanding of myself and my own perfectly customised lessons.


In fact, this idea suggests that there is actually no such thing as failure. There is only ever success…it just depends on how long it takes me to learn the lesson…how long it takes me to shift perspective…how long it takes me to recognise the unintended outcomes 😉

About the Author


is both a student support worker and a coordinator of the Oxford Inner Space meditation centre. She began her spiritual journey in South Africa and has a special interest to help other young people to integrate spiritual perspectives into their lives. Gaby values creativity and open-mindedness and has a capacity to understand and convey the complexity of the human spirit.

3 Responses to Failure to Success

  1. Mo Parker says:

    Soul Stories – Failure or Success

    I really enjoyed this article. It has been so helpful for me as a “student” rather than as a ‘centre helper’.

    We live and work in busy times and have an even busier time in Manchester this week, with a big event The Happiness Tonic at the Royal Northern College of Music. I find so many challenges in BK life and have had so many failures, wondering how I can regain my calm faster each time! So this deeper explanation of how I can perceive things and stay in touch with my core even whilst internal or external factors are less than calm is so very much appreciated.

    Thank you Gaby and the team that create Soul Stories :- )

    Love, Mo

  2. Janie Clements says:

    Om Shanti,

    Having just gone thru one of those challenging situations and supporting a family member who is also soul conscious going thru a challenging situation your writing helped me to pass on remembering the benefits of viewing things from an aerial perspective where I can detach and accept the things that are happening or have happened. For then I am able to build a bridge towards a deeper understanding of myself and my own perfectly customized lessons. From this ‘aerial perspective’ I can then see what my part is in the lesson, what I need to detach from so that I can recognize what gift I have received from this challenging situation. In learning this I can then shower my feelings of peace and good wishes for all involved and allow each of us to learn at our own pace, myself included. I can then move on across this particular bridge knowing that peace and wisdom are the greatest gifts I can receive and give in any situation.

    Here in the states, on Thanksgiving day, I recognized that I have a sister in this life time that we have been able to love and bond with not only in these life time but in many life times. How luck we both are.

    Thank you for your writing, what a wonderful way to start my day.

    Oh Shanit

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