When Failure Is Harder Than Success

You fantasize of gasoline.

Of how good it would feel to douse the whole fucking mess, throw the match, and walk away.

You imagine how good it would feel to quit the book-writing, to quit the marriage, to quit the business that never seems to get anywhere despite all the time, money, and heart you pour into it.

You think of all your efforts to succeed as a dogged paddle up the river… that if only you could bring yourself to STOP PADDLING, you would drift downstream in the contented bliss of those who have learned to be satisfied with what they’ve been given.

But you’re in no river. You are stuck half-way up a cliff face, with rocks above and rocks below, retreating no easier than climbing on.

As men, we tend to over-estimate the pleasure to be gained from quitting and UNDER-estimate the pain.

We do not consider how hollowed out we would be by the look of grief in the eyes of our children, or by having to explain to friends and family why we stopped writing the book or building the business or reaching for a better life.

You think you can burn it all down and walk away, but the truth is that extracting yourself from your ambitions and commitments is a long, sickening bleed, like clawing your way out of a razor wire net.

Somewhere along the way, you got the taste for a better life.

You’re wired ambitious now, like it or not.

The option to bury your dreams is no longer viable.

So if you find yourself wheezing and weeping on your cliff face, looking with dread and desire at the peak above you, stealing forlorn glances at the green valleys below…

Do not be fooled:

You will find what you need, so long as you keep climbing.

You will not always have to be so strong, not always have to keep yourself so close to the verge of breaking.

But if you turn back now and retreat for the valleys, the green you long for will turn to dust as you approach.

You’ve climbed to rarefied air.

You have chosen a life of beautiful difficulty. That is your oxygen.

For you, now, it’s just as much work and pain and uncertainty to fail as it is to succeed.



  1. Matthew Teuschel says

    Quitting is beyond painful. The consequences bring depression and shame. I’ve had to explain why I quit things to family and friends more than I’m proud to say and it never gets easier. It breaks you as a man and that can be dangerous. Thanks for the awesome content as always my friend.

    – Matt

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