“In great attempts, it is glorious even to fail.” Cassius Longinus
It was pointed out to me today that I have the wrong attitude about failure. I look at failure as a bad thing – something to be avoided at all costs. The only thing worse than failure is a bad ‘80s hairdo.
But failure is not something to be avoided and feared. In fact, my wise and trusted friend pointed out, we should embrace failure. We should celebrate it. We should try to fail as quickly as possible.
It is reported that when Thomas Edison was working on creating a better light bulb he said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
That is what my friend meant about my attitude towards failure. Failure isn’t bad. Each failure means we’ve learned something new that does not work. It means we’re one step closer to discovering what does work.
Failure is also the best teacher. Think of times you messed up. I mean really just totally dropped the ball. Those are lessons you never forget. The bigger you fail, the more you learn.
And failure goes deeper yet. If you never fail, it doesn’t mean you are perfect; infallible; Superman. It probably means you’ve never really stretched. If you play it safe and only do what you know you are able, then of course you will succeed. But what’s the fun in that? How will you ever know what you’re capable of if you don’t try new things?
But if you fall flat on your face, it means you’re trying to go beyond your limits. You’re putting yourself out there. You’re reaching for the brass ring. If you have a string of failures behind you, you know you’ve been giving it your best shot.
And if you take a risk – try something you’re not sure you can do – and you succeed. Wow! The feeling is amazing. You don’t get a feeling like that by playing it safe.
So, if you can’t remember the last time you failed, stop playing it safe. Go out there and fail. You’ll be one step closer to finding a way that works.
Andrea J. Stenberg