What I Learned from my Cat about Failure

I watch my cat in the backyard.  He is a hunter.  He eyes his prey—a bird? A mouse? He watches carefully.  He notices movement.  He anticipates where the prey will go when he pounces.  He puts his whole body into the act.

It’s rare that he brings me a kill—though over the years he has gotten better.  Still, more birds and mice have lived than died at the paws of my pouncing cat.

My cat doesn’t rack up his results at the end of the day.  He doesn’t keep track of how many times he pounced, and the mouse got away.  He just keeps doing what his instincts tell him to do—to get out there and try and try and try again at what he knows, innately, how to do.

Despite the cartoon life of cats, the actual beasts rarely take to the couch and bemoan their failures.  They’re cats, after all.  They’re furry balls of tenacity, instinct, fortitude.  They like to eat. They don’t bum themselves out.

Failure does not exist in the cat world. And the truth is that it doesn’t really exist for human beings either

  1. Failure isn’t anywhere in reality

It turns out there is no such thing as failure.  It doesn’t exist.  You can’t hold it in your hands.  It’s nothing that isn’t wholly created in the brain.  It’s an idea.  A think—as in The Thinks You Can Think by Dr. Seuss.  It’s purely conceptual.

  1. Concepts are conceptual. They don’t exist outside of language.

Failure is a concept.  Money is a concept.  Concepts are made up conditions that are culturally dependent and rely wholly on language for their expression. They are words that represent something—but they are not the thing they represent.

Failure is a word that represents emotion.  It lives, if it lives anywhere, as a word or thought—an idea whose time has come.

Independent of a human being trapped in culture and conditioning, “failure” does not have anywhere to take up residence.  It’s an idea that can’t live outside the feelings it generates in conversations we have with ourselves.

  1. Perpetuating the myth of failure is just a tool for bullying

Failure is a concept we made up—and, to make matters worse, we forgot that we made it up.  We use failure as if the concept were real.  We use it to beat ourselves and others up.

In reality, failure is just an idea that you make up to bum yourself out—and everyone who makes up this idea makes it up differently.  It’s existence is a myth, and perpetuating the myth of failure is just a way of bullying yourself and others.  If it’s anything, it’s a word.  It’s used to describe a feeling you create to help you feel bad about yourself or your performance.  You don’t need it.  Let it go.

  1. The Past Doesn’t Exist

You’re here, in this now, in business for yourself.  You’ve made all the choices, earned all the experiences, generated all the stories you’ve already told yourself about the past.

It can’t get you where you’re going.

The past doesn’t have anything to do with the now you’re in.  The past is not relevant now, nor does it have any helpful information for you in the future.

The only thing you need now, is a goal, some focus, some tenacity, some instinct.  All the things I see at work when my cat goes out in the backyard.

  1. The Really Real Truth

The really real truth is this: both success and failure are conceptual.  You have just this one thing: your word.  You’ve set out to do something. You’ve either done it or not done it.

If you did it, and didn’t achieve the desired results, you simply keep calibrating to achieve your desired results or lose interest.  You don’t fail.  You can’t.  Failure doesn’t exist outside your own head.

It’s important to ponder—as failure, or the fear of it seems to keep people out of claiming the life that is available to them—the life they want–the life they live to love.

This One Thing is Real

If you’re reading this, You’re here.  You’re alive.  You’re alive to take action.  You’re alive to pounce on your opportunities like my cat keeps pouncing at his prey.

If you’re here, you’re alive to know this truth: you’ve never failed at anything.  Failure doesn’t exist.

Right here, right now, throw that failure word out of your vocabulary.

Now, You can’t fail.  You don’t have a word for it anymore.

In the comments below, tell me, what will you do now, knowing you can not fail?