Facing the Mistakes of Life X

Failure does not necessarily imply a mistake. If we have held our standard high, bravely fought a good fight for the right, held our part courageously against heavy opposition and have finally seen the citadel of our great hope taken by superior force, by overwhelming conditions, or sapped and undermined by jealousy, envy or treachery we have met with failure, it is true, but—we have not made a mistake.

The world may condemn us for this non-success. What does the silly, babbling, unthinking world, that has not seen our heroic efforts, know about it? What does it matter what the world thinks, or says, if we know we have done our best? Sometimes men fail nobly because they have the courage to forego triumph at the cost of character, honour, truth and justice.

Had I read this ten years ago I don’t think I would have appreciated the profound truth of its message. My own quest for a deeper understanding of the truth, of my purpose, began at a young age. Looking back I realize that even though I made a number of mistakes growing up, the desire to know the truth and to have a conscious, working knowledge of my purpose never wavered. Looking at this passage now, however, I appreciate Mr. Jordan’s wisdom and timeless perspective on the difference between success and failure in truth, which can be quite different from what you might think when judging the surface appearance of an outcome.

When you live righteously – when you do the right thing at the right time because it is the right and noble thing to do – the outcome is largely irrelevant. Ten years ago I would say that such a view is tantamount to denial and a pathetic rationalization, but when you dig a little deeper and come to know the truth, you realize that maintaining your integrity in relation to the truth is all that matters at the end of the day.

If you trade your integrity, honor and truth for a brief moment of fame or a flash of success, you will have your reward. You might feel good for minutes, days or maybe even years, but when you sell your soul in exchange for security, recognition, comfort or any other outer object of your affectation, you self-inflict a wound that can be very slow to heal.

You can fail nobly. If your progress in the revelation of the truth of you is thwarted by the reactions of the mob, you have failed with dignity. If you are rejected from a circle of friends because you maintained your integrity in the face of some challenge and they didn’t, you have failed with honor. If you fought for what was right while those around you succumbed to their fears, jealousies, self-concerns or betrayed what they professed to know of the truth, you have tasted of a success that only those aligned with the truth enjoy.

Shakespeare once wrote that “Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” Staying true to the truth in a world gone mad is no cakewalk, but I doubt very highly that you were born on this earth to be a baker. You were born to be a butler, in the sense of the original word boteillier, which meant, simply, “cup-bearer.” You are here to be the chief steward of the world you center, capable of serving the wine of life to all who will receive of your service. Many will refuse. Call it failure if you must, but know that if you continue to give in ways that bless and uplift others, you are a true success, no matter how it ends up looking to the petty judgmental devils round about.

12 thoughts on “Facing the Mistakes of Life X

  1. TW

    This thought process does seem to take years of living and experience in the world to finally understand at a level that produces real feeling. I too would not have found the brilliance and meaning in this passage if I had read it 10 years ago. It takes courage and a deep sense of self to stand on integrity in times where so many seem to be praised for doing just the opposite. The feeling of success and priviledge is false and fleeting when the gain comes based on weakness, ” selling out”. I have learned through the years, making many mistakes along the way. I searched desperately for meaning, truth and purpose and found that no amount of gain is worth the loss of your own soul or a deeply damaged sense of worth. My hope is that those of us who live our truths and stand on integrity under even the most difficult of days, can lead our children to understand this principle and allow them to mature with a true sense of righteousness. This is my gift to my children, in hopes that it may provide this world a shot at a future filled with “uncommon living”.


  2. Joshua

    Everything we face in this “World gone mad” is an opportunity for learning how to better align with the truth of who we are. Humbly meeting our failures for what they are or were, is one of the greatest priveledges we have, so long as we are still breathing following them. The greatest blessings come from facing and rising above our failures, and a new world often follows, through a fresh new perspective backed by our new found strength.
    Thanks for helping me look upon this critical matter with fresh new eyes!


  3. Doug

    If we sincerely desire to help change things I think this quote by Cicero says it well,“I criticize by creation, not by finding fault”. Keep on, keeping on, thanks Gregg.


  4. Colin

    I think that if you do your best, and you stay with your integrity throughout a process, and you don’t achieve your goal, that the price of the success would be more of a failure than the goal’s non-achievement. I am confident that we all really do reap what we sow, and maintaining your integrity is paramount in this process. Now, sometimes we reap what others sow as well, and that can sometimes be a tragedy, but the only person we can really control is ourselves. If you use that self control to be the best person you can be, you will always have the comforting knowledge that you still maintain the one thing that no one can take away from you.


  5. Isabelle

    Beautifully put. We can’t be afraid to live and stand by our integrity. In the end, to sacrifice that is to sacrifice who we are.


  6. Lady Leo

    Learning to stay your course in the face of adversity comes if we mature emotionally but learning that failure may come even if you stay your course is usually learned by the bittersweet experience of it. I agree life is no cake walk, but knowing you are more than the tally sheet of money, fame or popularity lets you enjoy the sweet fruit of peace. In the deepest recesses of your soul you have the peace that can only be experienced through knowing your higher self. Bravo for this post!


  7. Emma

    Although Shakespeare’s quote may seem to some like a warning from the late 1500s, I myself see it as a factual statement of the World’s situation even now in the year 2011. To maintain your integrity in the face of adversity is the stuff that novels and movies are made of, but the truth is the ending doesn’t always paint you as a hero and the dark clouds do not always part for a ray of light with angels chorus heard in the background to point out the obvious great act for all to note. Sometimes you yourself and whatever larger power you believe in, are the only two aware of what you did. This last statement of fact is all that really matters to me. The central purpose of a person’s life is one of the most sacred privileges given to human beings and to sacrifice it ever for flattery or acceptance cheapens the very existence of which a much higher value has been given at birth.

    Thanks for such a great post!


  8. Coco

    This is the hallmark of being an individual. We take responsibility for the authorship of the content of our cup. What is born from our heart and mind, then expressed through our words and deeds are what we will ultimately have to reckon for. The approximation of each life will not come as result of what mankind has deemed as worthy. This is one area the Omnipotence has the complete control, “the petty judgmental devils” have no influence there.
    Excellent post, thank you.


  9. Ricardo B.

    Living with yourself is the one thing in life you cannot escape from. Try as you may, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to reconcile the sincerity of your actions. If errors have been made, corrections must follow. I personally don’t think we can effectively distance ourselves from our inherent nobility and then live in peace. Peace is naturally generated when you are true to your core. Man, by his very core nature, is a noble being, selfless and kind. He wishes to do good, express his love and live truthfully in accordance to order and right. Every great social advancement, whether in our immediate families that we all participate in intimately, or in the larger more global contexts through spirited agreement and leadership, must come from this. So why does it get all tangled up? Well, there’s the rub. You talked about it yesterday with the horse and rider. There are unique facets of our makeup that we need to know about and come to terms with. if we don’t, then the horse will find ways to excuse itself from any action that is less than the rider’s wishes. All this is of uber importance to learn about! We’ve got to be still enough to know and remember what rightness feels like, tastes like, because you can’t just intellectually have an idea about it and think that’s all there is to it. It really has to rule you, without hesitation. You have to want this so bad that you are willing to question your every motive and never assume you are above the law in any step of your progress. True humility before the throne of your ideals.

    Let’s see……which vintage shall I procure from my cellar?


  10. David R

    Once again a critical distinction established. It is not ‘spin’ to state that one can succeed according to the world’s standards and be a total failure, or one can fail according to those standards and yet be a resounding success. Actually, history is filled with the stories of successes that seemed like failures and vice versa.

    You’ve clarified the keys that open the door to actual consistent success. The typical views and concerns surrounding success and failure are generally little more than a distraction from the true central significance of individual honor and integrity. Ultimately, appearances are appearances and the truth is true.


  11. Kelli Lorentzen

    I think of all the opportunities just in one day to not become subject to the swayings of outer appearances. When your personal anchor goes much deeper than this and you are willing to “weight” it out in the small and large things, it is true you will have earned the title “noble” and the inner reward from that. I love Shakespeare’s description of Hell being empty and all the devils are here. Don’t lose your place because of them!


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