April 1, 2024

Find Something To Fail At

Motivational speaker, Jacques de Villiers writes about the purpose of work.

Jacques de Villiers – writing quest: Article 50/365

Imagine that you’re a contender in a game called life and that the world is your gymnasium. We’ve been taught that our job is to play the game to win.

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t been winning at business, love and life a lot lately. And winning is a Sisyphean endeavour for most of us. Because most of us perceive ourselves to be empty and need to be filled. When we start from emptiness instead of gratitude, nothing we do or have will ever feel like enough.

“No amount of zeros at the end of your pay cheque can fill that hole in your chest called insecurity.”

Sheikh Ebrahim Schuitema

I changed my view of winning at the game about 10 years ago. This shift in perception helped me contend in the game differently. It has been helpful to me, and it may be helpful to you.

It started with a story that Sheikh Ebrahim Schuitema told about walking up a mountain. “You can describe a person walking in two ways.  You can either say he’s walking to get to the top of the mountain.  Or you can say the top of the mountain is his means to have a good walk. 

If there wasn’t a good challenge, he wouldn’t have a good walk.  And the real product of a good walk isn’t that the top of the mountain gets achieved. The real product is that the walker becomes stronger and better at walking.” 

So, what’s the real point of any endeavour, be it starting a business, getting married or creating art? For me the point is not winning but transformation.

The only point of a gymnasium is the athlete, the one who is playing. One doesn’t do things to achieve things, one does them to do them well. It’s a shift from outcome to process.

Because it’s only in the blood and guts of the process that we truly transform. If everything were easy and everything we touched turned to gold, there’d be no transformation, only hedonism.

I’d argue that all of us fail more than we win. Shattered marriages, failed friendships, broken children, failed businesses and unmet expectations are chronicles of our defeats. If we had to base the success of our lives on our wins, we’d all be in a very sad place indeed.

Should we say, what’s the point of playing the game and contending if I’m going to lose more than I win?

Of course not. 

The purpose of any endeavour is not the endeavour. The purpose of any endeavour is to turn us into more conscious, eloquent and awesome human beings. To bring us to the truth of who we are; masterpieces creating master-works.

Why don’t you and I go find another endeavour to fail at?  

It’s only a game, after all. 

And, it’s a game that’s stacked in our favour.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *