Achieve Success

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What can evolution teach us about success and failure?

August 2017
Evolution in nature teaches how failure is a prerequisite for success.

How would we measure success in nature? A tree provides a good model. First, the roots below the earth seem to model the expanse of the branches above. Plant a tree in a small pot and the tree will remain small. Trees also grow healthy when we prune away the dead branches and buds. This can remind us that success is not always measured by what we receive, but by what is taken away. 

Over time, nature has attempted to improve its species by allowing for a type of trial and error, where traits that lead to success become enhanced, while those that limit success might fall by the wayside during evolution and natural selection. Failure or loss are ideas that are restricted to a time sense. Over time, the reason for the loss always become clear.

The biggest fear you may face on your journey is the fear of failure. All species are success driven, yet those that live the longest are the ones most adaptable to change. Evolution suggests how being willing to fail in the short term is necessary to succeed in the long term.  

There is a type of perfection seeking tendency at work in nature that leads us to scratch our heads when we witness a natural disaster. From the eyes of nature, all phenomena is necessary as it moves toward regeneration and renewal.

Nature attempts innovations through what appears to be disastrous results. Photosynthesis allows plants to make sugar by trapping electrons from water. The process releases the oxygen molecule necessary for the survival of many other species.

Millions of years ago however, microorganisms appeared in an atmosphere heavy with carbon dioxide and little oxygen. A new species called cyanobacteria revolutionized the earth by using water molecules to obtain the hydrogen atom necessary for photosynthesis. In the process, they released oxygen as a waste product. The rising oxygen levels on the earth became deadly to millions of species.

Some adapted by using enzymes that converted oxygen atoms into non-toxic chemical compounds. Anaerobic bacteria are one example of a species that still finds oxygen deadly. Many anaerobes were driven underground, into the muddy bottoms of lakes, sea beds and rivers and into the digestive tracts of mammals, including humans. Today, we couldn’t digest our foods without them.

Evolution appears to make mistakes that in hindsight are beneficial to its future successes. We can only classify the idea of failure when we stop trying. Evolution inspires the idea that failure is an illusion of human perspective. We observe a pelvic bone in a whale, and immediately focus on how it impedes swimming, yet it is a remnant of its evolutionary journey as a mammal. Someday it may evolve to serve a different purpose. We tend to judge success with an end goal in mind, but nature does not. Evolution in nature is in an endless process of becoming.

Many of our known DNA enzymes make errors in coding bases of DNA. Because of this miscoding however, the immune system can generate new antibodies. Mitochondria, which drive cell machinery today, are the remnants of a once independent bacterium. Something that was once harmful has now formed a symbiotic alliance with our cells. 

Evolution can teach you that in order to try anything new, you must be willing to make what appear to be mistakes. Success in the long term is dependant upon trial and error in the short term. If in your fear of failure, you would avoid trying something new, you may never know the satisfaction of success.

Without failing, you wouldn’t be walking today. You may forget the many times you fell down when your parents taught you to walk. Everything in nature is perfected through trial and error and failure is a necessary stepping stone to success.

When you can see failure as a stepping stone, you will always succeed.

Exercise: 
Write down a goal you would like to accomplish. Write down three action steps that will lead you closer to this goal. Notice how you feel when the goal is stated. Observe how the tension is like a wound coil that will actually pull you toward your goal. This tension can be called in-tension. Reaching the goal relies on your commitment. You cannot succeed without it - so see it as the rope that pulls you toward your goal. Without goals, you will never know a sense of accomplishment. Without accomplishment you will lack self esteem. The goal itself presents the idea of failure; but failure is an illusion if you are on a pathway of success. Because you are always learning something, you cannot fail. Because you are never failing, you will always succeed.