The subjective and objective can exist both simultaneously and independently; success and failure are no different.
Objectives are, insomuch as the name, objective. There’s little gray area. You accomplished a goal; you failed to accomplish said goal. Black and white. And in spite of the prevailing “A for Effort!” attitude of today’s society, it’s extremely important that we accept failures for what they are: motivation to return.
However, failure—in and of itself—need only be tied to objective qualifications. Where you can never fail, with the right mindset, is in the experience.
We went out into the High Sierra with a mission in mind. We failed to accomplish that goal. Categorically. Struck out 0 for 5. But at no point over those two days did any moment of the experience feel like a failure. We spent two incredible days in one of the most beautiful slices of alpine in the country. We pushed our limits. Exceeded them. Learned from the best. Spoke about climbing and life and love and business and how every single one of them takes work—real work, hard work, Malcolm Gladwell ten-thousand-hour-rule kind of work—but each objective failure is a greater opportunity to grow as an individual, to learn something to teach the next generation, to learn something about ourselves.
We don’t control the experience inasmuch as our reaction to it. But that’s more powerful. We control the human experience. And from this, we always have the ability to look back at our plethora of experiences—all the objective successes and failures—and say, that was productive, I learned from that, that was a success.
Us, that is… The marmots live there.