Welcome to the YouTopian Journey. Each week I will be sharing unique wisdom as well as a more in-depth overview of the artwork that is featured on the Instagram @youtopianjourney. This week we discuss why we are all failures and why failures are required for success.
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FAILURE IS A COMPANION FOR LIFE
“We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes—one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximum freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way.”-Stephen Jay Gould
Man is a fearful creature.
We possess many fears, and these are legitimate.
Fears of poverty.
Fears of loss.
Fears of wounds and injuries.
But the greatest fear? The one that many refuse to admit to? The one that exists in the corner of our mind’s eye?
The fear of failure.
This is a crippling fear that defeats countless people before they even begin. It breaks down inner barriers, corrupts the ability to take outer action, and infects an individual with a poison that there is no cure for.
This poison pulls the mind in a variety of different directions, none of them good.
What if they laugh at me?
What if they ridicule me?
What if they never let this go?
What will they think of me?
What will they say about me?
But the reality of the situation? The fact of the matter? The truth?
Fear of failure is the silliest fear of them all.
Because we have all failed more times than we will ever realize. We are professional failures at the highest level!
We failed when we first learned to walk. We failed when we first learned to talk. We failed when learning new skills. We failed at sports, at video games, and at tests. We failed to stay awake when we were tired. We failed to wake up early when we desired to. We make resolutions at the start of every new year, and we fail at sticking to those resolutions.
Need more proof?
Many fail every day at simple tasks. Some fail to exercise properly. Others fail while exercising. We fail to stick to diets. We fail at plans. We fail at relationships. We fail at friendships. We fail to return emails, calls, and texts.
We fail to start reading the books we ordered. We fail to finish the actions that we begin. We fail to catch a train, or a flight, or a bus. We fail at the goals we set for ourselves.
Many fail to open this very newsletter week after week!
We fail at being punctual. We fail at being polite. We fail at being humble. We fail at being happy.
So why do we fear failure if it is something that is so ubiquitous to our lives?
Because failure is shameful. Losing isn’t celebrated. Failure is hard to face and painful to take. We want heroes who save the day and gain riches and fame in the process.
Society doesn’t want failures.
Society doesn’t want losers.
Society doesn’t want your stories of failure until you have made it. Until you can have your face on a cereal box. Until then, society is indifferent. Until then, it is just you and your failures to keep you company on your journey.
Many people cannot take this pressure. They cannot live with such a constant companion. The thought of this is enough to deter countless people from embarking on a journey that could not only benefit themselves, but society at large!
So, what do the multitude do?
They play it safe. They dull their potentialities. They suffer in their minds. They do anything and everything to avoid the possibility of being labeled as a failure.
This is no way to live!
Understand that failure will always be there, following in your footsteps. This inner destructor that can determine your course. We must live with it, even though society cannot.
Society is skewed. Instead of punishing failures, they should be celebrated.
Because failures are the result of courageous action. You have to have guts to be a failure. You need to be able to roll the dice, take a chance, engage in risky behavior, and lose it all. And then you need to have the ability to pick yourself up and begin once again. And again, and again. Always being thought of as a failure until you finally make it.
This is the irony of our society!
When you are a failure, you are wasting your time and resources. You are thought of as insane. However, when you become successful, you are referred to as a persistent and resilient hero. You must live with this duality and keep moving forward. You must make a promise to yourself to keep going, realizing that the only thing worse than failure is to never make an attempt at all.
“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”-Theodore Roosevelt
FAILURE IS NOT FATAL
“No man fails who really believes in what he does.”-Edward E. Purinton, Efficient Living.
When we experience failure, we feel defeated. We feel pain. We feel lost.
We turn to social media and see smiling faces and successful people.
We then wonder what we did wrong? Why did this happen to us? What could we have done differently? And in the worst case, a declaration that this will never happen again.
This is foolish thinking. We cannot make such a declaration. There is always a high possibility of failure in anything that we do. We must accept this. We must move forward in the face of such feelings and continue on.
Because after we have failed, we are still here. We are still standing. Circumstances may have changed. Our fortunes may have changed. We may have changed.
But we are still here. Broken. Bruised. Bloodied.
We are still alive.
You are still alive.
Because failure is not fatal.
Let me repeat this. Failure is not fatal. In fact, the failures of our society are the people who transform it for the better.
The inventor who has failed countless times but pressed on.
The artist who kept at their craft despite limited support.
The actor who showed up to audition after audition after they were rejected from every role offered.
The writer who continued to churn out great works with little to no sales.
The entrepreneur who failed over and over again, not taking no for an answer.
This knowledge is nothing new. In fact, it is written about in my favorite passage from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance.
“If our young men miscarry in their first enterprises they lose all heart. If the young merchant fails, men say he is ruined. If the finest genius studies at one of our colleges and is not installed in an office within one year afterwards in the cities or suburbs of Boston or New York, it seems to his friends and to himself that he is right in being disheartened and in complaining the rest of his life. A sturdy lad from New Hampshire or Vermont, who in turn tries all the professions, who teams it, farms it, peddles, keeps a school, preaches, edits a newspaper, goes to Congress, buys a township, and so forth, in successive years, and always like a cat falls on his feet, is worth a hundred of these city dolls. He walks abreast with his days and feels no shame in not 'studying a profession,' for he does not postpone his life, but lives already. He has not one chance, but a hundred chances.”
Despite this wonderful knowledge, we have still not been taught to accept our failures and the role that they play. Instead, we have a success at all cost mentality that our society hammers in again and again. This is nothing more than a tempting trap.
And you must avoid this trap!
We are so obsessed with victory and success, so determined to have good fortune, that we fail to realize the opposite end of the coin.
That sometimes we need to have the good fortune to have bad fortune.
We need to be shipwrecked to find ourselves on a new land that we can call our own.
We need to become lost on our way home to find our way back.
We need to lose it all in order to begin again.
“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.”-Louis L’Amour
We need to experience bitter defeat and failures in order to open up paths to new possibilities. Begin to respect your failures and defeats. These are the best opportunities to learn about yourself, your goals, other people, and the industry you are in. Those high on their own success never stop to reflect, they keep going while it is the failure who must think, meditate, and come up with new strategies.
This is the worth and value of a failure. They humble us. They test our mettle. They strengthen us. They winnow the dreamers from the doers. They give us opportunities to begin again with more experience, more knowledge, and more defenses against whatever comes our way.
Do not expect society to change.
It is us who must change.
We must embrace our failures, realizing the opportunities that they provide us.
We must not shrink from our failures but learn from them.
We must constantly strive toward our goals, in the face of defeats and failures, never once giving in and admitting that we are lost.
“There are some defeats more triumphant than victories.”-Michel De Montaigne
Because failures serve a purpose. They educate. They make us think differently. They test our endurance and our resilience. More importantly, failure keeps us rooted in reality. This is something that many fail to realize.
When we are successful, we can become arrogant and cocky. We all have a friend or a peer or a family member who has changed after finding success. Their attitude is altered. The successful come to believe that they are ordained and favored by the Gods for greatness.
This is mentally dangerous!
Successes have a tendency to make giants out of insects, making us believe that our victories were from our efforts and our efforts alone. Many fail to realize that their success had more to do with serendipity, luck, years of hard work, and taking the right actions at the right time. Forgetting this struggle, drunk on success, many fly too close to the sun.
Failures on the other hand, make us reflect. They keep us humble. They allow for the individual to examine what went wrong and how to avoid it the next time around. As there will be a next time. There is always some far off goal, some journey, some prize that we must all strive for. It is up to us to determine how.
Will you continue on, knowing that failure isn’t fatal?
Will you begin again despite the pain?
Will you make a commitment to remaining committed to your goal?
Because that is what society needs. Not more influencers, confluencers, gurus, forex traders, and people who promise us a false lifestyle.
But people who can press on and fail again and again, never giving up until they reach their objectives and make them a reality. People who can appreciate and celebrate their own failures and defeats.
Never stopping until they have arrived at the destination of their own choosing, where they know that they belong.
I hope to see you there.
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”-Winston Churchill
YOUTOPIAN JOURNEY WAS A FAILURE
“Nearly always, the depth of a failure foreshadows the height of some victory-to the man who never despairs but keeps on climbing.”-Edward E. Purinton, Efficient Living.
Before YouTopian Journey was a substack, it was a comic book script.
It then became a series of short form animated scripts intended for QUIBI (which ironically also failed).
Then a full film script.
I then thought of it as a tech startup utilizing the art to create a custom APP to help with mental wellness and personal resilience. Few understood what I was attempting to do.
It then returned to the comic book script, which was pitched to Image Comics, the largest independent comic book publisher in the world.
The pitch was met with silence.
It was then pitched to a new and upcoming company from creative industry veterans in comics, video games, and film. Their company was created for new and intriguing voices who had no industry experience.
Despite sounding like a perfect fit, this was also met with silence. In the meantime, I had complete strangers giving me their usual opinions. The art was too weird. The story was too outlandish. The characters didn’t have the right look.
So, I set out to write a manuscript, which would become my fifth published book. I finished it, with the final draft clocking in around 55,000 words. But my passion for the art was still there and my desire to showcase it wasn’t fulfilled. The YouTopian Journey was consuming me, and it had to be brought to the surface, the exact way I wanted to do it.
Then I settled on Substack, where I could grow my following, showcase the art, and truly help people with my writing and concept. Furthermore, I could prove to the naysayers that YouTopian Journey will make a difference, despite their opinions.
The results speak for themselves. People from all over the world sending me messages of gratitude and complimenting me on my work. Readers printing out the art and taping it to their walls. Others discovering the inner strength to switch careers. Some have identified with the dreamer character, seeing themselves in her shoes. At the same time, doors are being opened to new opportunities that I never imagined, and I am rewarded with a feeling of personal fulfillment for helping others.
Had I listened to the negativity and doubters, I wouldn’t be here. Had I given in, this would have just been some concept art gathering virtual dust on a hard drive. Had I accepted the failures of the pitches and the opinions of others, nothing would have happened.
And things are just the beginning. This is the 36th issue of YouTopian Journey and I intend to keep releasing them each and every week to help you become more confident, more persistent, and mentally stronger.
Now it is your turn.
Go out there and make an attempt at something. The worse that will happen is that you fail. In fact, I want you to fail.
I want you to fail at something that is meaningful.
I want you to fail at something that won’t cause you to give up, but to continue on even more resolute than before.
I want you to fail at something that you can truly call your own.
And I want you to be proud of the attempt and have the strength to do it all again.
“Most men fail, not through lack of education or agreeable personal qualities, but from lack of dogged determination, from lack of dauntless will.”-Orison Swett Marden
“Luctor et Emergo”-I struggle and overcome.
On your mark...get set…fail. Most startups fail, simple as that.
Founder failure is part of the "do or die" entrepreneurial journey in the strive for success. But how does one deal with the public feedback, poor reviews, envy from supporters, and negativity? Sandra Golbreich, Dr. Johannes Lenhard, and I will be sharing our stories of persistence while offering proactive, problem-coping mechanisms that can give support to even the thickest-skinned entrepreneurs. More importantly, this is a live session, and I will be addressing all questions from the audience. It is free and I encourage everyone to attend and participate, regardless if you are an entrepreneur or not. I look forward to interacting with all of you. Space is limited so please register here.
CRAMP YOUR CRANIUM
I truly believe that the best advantage one can have in this world is to be armed with knowledge. Citizen Scholar is a free newsletter that covers a different book or essay every Friday morning and discusses its key ideas and implications (always in a positive & inclusive tone). Their goal is to spur discussion around books that shed light on the past (history, classics, biographies), explain the present (economics, finance, general studies) or perhaps a glimpse into the future (cutting edge technology, theory, etc.). Much like YouTopian Journey, you can read through their past editions and access high quality content. You can subscribe free here.
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I’m Shaun Gold and if you are reading this, you are already on your journey. Catch you next week.