Failure is an Option

American culture is so wrapped up in success that even the smallest failures are ridiculed or looked down upon.  From the beginning of elementary school the idea that failure is not an option is pressed into our brain so hard that when we do fail, we might as well give up. Why is this the generally followed idea of thinking, and what must we do to change it?

What would a classroom look like if kids were praised in there failure in order to push them to try again and get better? Failure is even described in the dictionary as a lack of success.  I’m not sure I like that definition. I think it should follow more along the lines of “an attempt at something that didn’t pan out the first time.” If we expected everyone to be successful on there first attempt at anything, we would never have innovation. Now, instead of just standing on a soapbox and screaming at the masses, let me back up this rant with some evidence.


The most obvious route to go when looking at people who have failed but ultimately end in success is athletes, so I’m not going to do that. In most technological advances we never see the failures that happen along the way, but rest assured that the creator failed many times before actually creating what they intended. Let me put it this way, have you ever heard of the Apple Newton PDA? I didn’t think so.

Despite this, the great thing about failure is the fact that failing at something makes you better. Learning form the mistakes you make the first time can change how you look at something again, or give you direction in finding the right answer. Sometimes failure even leads to new things. Many things were created by mistake, and without failure we wouldn’t have them. Things like penicillin, plastic, and even pacemakers. All of these inventions came about because of a mistake of some kind.

Failure’s experienced by children are crucial in allowing them to fully develop into functioning adults and not spoiled brats. (Thats mostly a personal opinion, but it’s warranted)  Never allowing a child to fail creates a false sense of reality that can never actually be attained in the real world. Many kids who grow up in this sheltered idea that they are perfect have trouble assimilating with other peers and pushing themselves to do better because failure has never been a problem. They are then placed with the task of coping with large failures that can cause a lot more pain then they can handle.

Thomas Edison was hearing impaired and only lasted three months in school before his teachers told him he was too stupid to learn anything. After creating the light bulb he said, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that do not work.” Seeing failure as a way to progress and get better changes how one can do things and makes it so much better when you accomplish something.

This blog isn’t written as an excuse for you to fail at everything you try, but it is written with the hope that you won’t be so hard on yourself. FAILURE IS APART OF LIFE. The sooner we all learn this truth, the sooner we can take those failures and actually do something productive with them. Without failure, innovation cannot occur. You can learn so much more about something, and ultimately yourself, when you understand and embrace the fact that you are probably going to fail at some point at something. The important thing to do after failing is to learn from it, forget about it, and move on.

You failed.

Big Deal.

Move on.

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