To watch and listen to a video presentation of this article, click on this link: Traumatic Brain Injury and the Illusion of Failure Video Presentation.
“When progress becomes the goal, failure becomes the illusion.” Craig J. Phillips MRC, BA
Welcome back to my blog. I am happy you decided to visit with me. After I got home from my workout, I fixed something to eat. While I ate I watched a little television. After doing some channel surfing I was intrigued by one particular program, “Americas Got Talent”.
I watched a series of different performers and listened to 3 different judge’s cast their votes. If the judges said yes, they would move on to the next round. If the judges said no, the performers would not progress to the next round of the competition.
Some of the judges were harsh in their appraisals. During one part of the program, the producers of the show presented a series of vignettes where specific performers were disqualified from the competition. As you might imagine, those who performed to the best of their abilities, were quite disappointed when they were told that they were not good enough to progress to the next round of the competition.
My heart went out to those particular performers. I was sad for them because I could identify with their obvious disappointment. My best efforts were often met with harsh criticism and disapproval. As I have been writing this post a memory has been triggered.
This memory typifies my experience throughout much of my life. My 10th grade high school English teacher told me that what I endured from many of my classmates would make most grown men cry. On more occasions than I have time to mention, I have been disregarded, discounted, ostracized, bullied, denigrated, shunned, rejected, ridiculed, laughed at, made fun of, maligned, vilified, slandered, minimized and devalued. I have been the subject of malicious gossip on too many occasions.
Several years ago, my best friend told me that most people would have given up a long time ago if they had to endure your experience.
My experience has taught me very valuable lessons.
Perfection is a cruel taskmaster that will never be satisfied. I am not a failure. I am a work in progress. I may never be able to measure up to some individuals, but that is not about me. When people judge me, they are in reality judging themselves. Many people are like sheep that aimlessly follow popular opinion. My value is not dependent on my being able to convince anyone that I am enough. Approval seeking and people pleasing is a black hole. My best efforts are good enough, period! I can continue to learn. Hurt people hurt people.
People who chose to malign, devalue, slander, ridicule or ostracize who I am are in their own denial. Excellence is a realistic goal. Unrealistic expectations of God, other people and myself often leave me disappointed. Disappointment may be a part of living, but being disappointed does not have to leave me discouraged. With everything, there is a learning curve. Disappointments often become my greatest teachers. I am not a victim because I know there is a teaching tool in all my circumstances. Success is a very personal experience.
My passion will never die and I can follow my bliss. I can live life on life’s terms.
I am Proud of You
To those individuals on “America’s Got Talent” who were not selected to move on to the next round, I am proud of you. You did your best and that is good enough. Use your experience to your benefit and don’t let the illusion of failure keep you down. Failure is tied to perfectionism, which is tied to shame (please read my post, So that is the Culprit). You were excellently you in your performance. So don’t give up on yourself, your dreams or your hope because hope will not disappoint. Trust God, trust yourself and trust the process. You are a winner, one day at a time.
“If you advance confidently in the direction of your dreams and endeavor to live the life that you have imagined…you will meet with success unexpected in common hours” Henry David Thoreau
As a person with an invisible disability, I have also learned that some people will never understand that I am indeed a traumatic brain injury survivor. Consequently, they may choose to focus on their expectations of me. In their eyes, I may never quite measure up to what they believe I “should” be able to do because I am articulate, intelligent, able-bodied, and motivated.
Because of their “should’s” I may continue to be maligned, devalued, ridiculed, ostracized, discounted, and minimized. Some people may even suggest that I lack trust and faith in God. To that I would say read 10 part article: My Journey thus Far.
My pursuit of excellence may never convince some people that I am doing my best. With those individuals, I have learned that it is in my best interest to practice live and let live. What is most important to me today is that I fulfill God’s will for my life, one day at a time. Consequently, I proclaim spiritual progress, rather than spiritual perfection.
And so, when progress becomes the goal, failure becomes the illusion.
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