Failure is Good?
How many of your daily decisions revolve around avoiding failure? How many ideas go untouched? How many projects never get started? How many dreams are given up? The best success stories often begin with the act of failing, so why do we tie such negative feelings to failure? Behind every success story, is an embarrassing or difficult first effort. So, I ask again, why do we fear to fail?
The other month I attended the ‘Internet Summit’ with the keynote speaker being Seth Godin. He said a lot of great things but the message that I keep obsessing over is that we SHOULD encourage failure from ourselves and the others around us.
It makes sense though, right? The more allowance we give ourselves, the more confidence we have to encourage risk-taking and create opportunity. Risk-taking brings new ideas and innovation. These qualities lead to the very best ideas and success stories. I know that this is not a natural way of thinking though. We are constantly told that we need to set goals and make sure that they are completed successfully. Whether we are in school, we are at work, or even in our personal lives, we are surrounded by people telling us that success is the key to everything.
Looking at Failure in a Different Way
Lets look at it a different way. How do we have our best successes without failure? If we never fail, then we never truly pushed ourselves to be the best that we could be. It means that we stuck to the easy home runs and that our potential hasn’t and won’t reach our highest ability. When we fail at something, it shows us how we can do something different. We now have the option of looking back on the failure and thinking about how we could have done it differently. Once that has been done, we are given the opportunity to go back and work harder. We have the control to change the outcome this time.
Successful People Fail
Off the top of your head, who are people that had to fail multiple times to finally reach their highest potential? I came across some amazing facts in this great list of “15 Highly Successful People Who Failed on Their Way to Success“.
Did you know that Steven Spielberg was rejected TWICE by the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts? Or that Thomas Edison was told by his teachers he was ‘too stupid to learn anything’? Can you imagine your childhood without Disney? Well it could easily have been, if Walt had listened to his former newspaper editor. The editor told Walt he ‘lacked imagination and had no good ideas’.
I recently came across one of our student’s LinkedIN posts that hit home:
She wasn’t afraid to show her missed step. She didn’t focus on the initial outcome. She chose to focus on the process. This student took a risk and failed to pass her exam but she is not a failure. Now she knows exactly how close she was to passing her certification and what she needs to do to get there next time. Lets follow in her footsteps and not get lost in flurry of the first try. We can keep trying until we reach our own best successes!
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