“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” —Thomas Edison
People treat failure in different ways.
Some people FEAR failure. “If I do something new, I might fail… so I’ll just keep on doing what I’m already doing.” But we grow through our failings. And you can’t avoid failure by “sitting still” – there are many cases where “sitting still” IS failure. At the end of their lives, many have regretted actions they didn’t take far more than the actions they did.
And most of the time, our worst fears never come to pass. Humans are notoriously bad at predicting the future (just look at all the rhetoric around the stock market, if you don’t believe me). So instead of sitting stagnant, avoiding action, what if we examined our worst fears and asked ourselves, is this truly likely to happen? And if it did, could I survive and keep going? Could I learn something and start again?
Some people REJECT failure. “Failure is NOT an option.” But this is a blind approach that conditions us to avoid seeing the realities of life. The reality is that failure IS an option. Failure happens all the time, in big ways and small ways. So accept that failure will occur, it’s just a matter of when. Don’t charge blindly ahead. Open your eyes and see.
Instead of fearing or rejecting, what if we took a stoic approach and EXPECTED failure? What if we PURSUED failure? I don’t mean that we should intentionally cause it, collecting failures like playing cards. But what if we took calculated risks (using systems – remember?) and built failure into our plans, assuming that it will surprise us, so we aren’t surprised when it does. Accept it and learn from it. Grow through it.
I don’t know about you, but I remember my failures well. They are like signposts that I can always look for to tell me I need to work harder. To build connections and find partners to offset my weaknesses. To educate myself. To develop technical skills. To develop soft skills.
Instead of FEARING or REJECTING failure, let us EMBRACE failure. If we don’t accept that our ventures might fail, we might not be prepared to pivot. We might avoid dealing with issues until they are too late. Or worse, we might not do anything at all.
Open your eyes, keep going, and embrace failure as you would a long-lost friend. A friend that pisses you off from time to time, but ultimately a friend that challenges you to grow, to become a stronger someone.