The word “triumph” implies overcoming something. Literally, it means to conquer something. (Wikipedia's definition references Napoleon in order to really drive the whole "conquer" theme home.) That “something”, I believe, is failure. For example, one army triumphs over another army, one team over a rival team, a person seeking less clutter triumphs over a dirty house by cleaning it, etc.
That is to say, all these scenarios include the following steps; setting out to do "something"; by committing to something, we encounter the inevitable risk of not being able to achieve that something; and, after agreeing to take on this risk of failure, the triumphant individual is merely the individual who accomplishes their goal void of the failure. (The quick version of this: you set out to do something and accomplished it despite the odds.)
Quick disclaimer: I am not speaking of the great movie making failures such as infidelity, murder, or turning your jet fighter up and to the right too quickly, getting it caught in the jet-wash, killing Goose. (That’s a Top Gun reference, millennials.) It’s not that they don’t have a place in this conversation. But I am speaking of the more mundane failures, who’s fear thereof can stop us in our tracks before we begin.
“I want to record an album”, says, the aspiring artist, “but what if I fail?” -- artist stopped in tracks. “I want to be a kinder partner to my lover, but I am afraid to be vulnerable” says, no-guy-ever out loud -- Emo Romance stopped in it’s tracks. “I want to start a workout routine”, says everyone in January, “but what if I don’t follow through?” – says, a thousand people now at a higher risk for heart disease.
To be clear, however, I am not advocating a bunch of doom and gloom… “Woe is me" folks hanging out together talking about how terrible they are...I would rather swallow a bullet than hang around in that crowd. Similarly though my reaction is the same when people put up false pretenses to make a good impression, eg; the kind of folks who would rather sip urine from a tea glass if the decor is right and the company proper, than stir the pot by stating something is foul. (btw, these folks are not to be confused with the folks who willfully, if not with great pains, eat the most wretched of foods humbly offered by a kind host…different situation there altogether; think Ghandi.
Should we not then be either hot or cold, refusing to settle for the ambient temperature? Should we not take risks and make an effort to make change? And if so, the question still remains, how do we live with the painful consequences of being wrong, of letting ourselves and others down? And how do we experience “triumph” and maintain humility in success?
Full Disclosure: I am writing this because I can't sleep. I am anxious right now over my own failure. I am constantly committing to things that I don't get done.
Yes, it is true that I get some amount of credit for founding an organization that is thriving and supported by amazing staff, volunteers and community members. I sit at the helm of an award winning ship - and that’s super dope! But how did I do it? "What’s my secret?", you ask. I'll tell you the secret: I am incredible at sharing my passion, at having a vision...
...then overcommitting, then failing, then finding people who surround me and help me not fail so much.
Indeed, I am an expert at inspiring action. I draw empathy out of people through the combination of revealing the great expanses of my inadequacies, and then peppering them with just a touch of hopeful banter. My organization rests atop of a mountain of debris created out of my individual failure, upon failure, upon failure. Indeed, it is that pile of debris (made from my failures…incase you didn’t get that), that allowed people to see how they could use their skills to help, to fill gaps, to do things better than I could ever achieve on my own. Failure made it all happen.
…or they will run from you. That happens too. Not everyone is on the same page regarding this “exposing our vulnerable sides”. And timing is everything here. Certainly don't go over board on a first date or a holiday party, no one likes a "Debby Downer". Also, people might judge you. That's always my fear, the judgment.