“Failure is not an option.”
How many times have we heard that phrase? Honestly, probably many more times than any of us would like to admit.
But let’s be real for a minute. How often have you ever completed something quickly, effectively, and perfect the first time? My guess would be not very often. At least that’s not how my life goes. We all have much bigger struggles than that.
Here’s the thing about failure though. It is a key to success. Successful individuals have not just waltzed into their top-level jobs with all their responsibilities under control. That’s not how life works. The beauty of success is dedication and perseverance required to achieve it. While Thomas Edison was attempting to create the incandescent light bulb, he remarked, “I have not failed 700 times. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”
What a hopeful statement.
It would be nice if we all had that type of optimism, wouldn’t it? I tend to get worn down and defeated whenever I cannot seem to get something right. Maybe I’m the only one who feels that way sometimes, but I highly doubt it. It is much easier to say “I’m just not cut out for it” or “I’ve not been given that particular talent” or “I have so many other things to do that I just do not have time.”
Sadly, these defeated thinking patterns are what hinders people from reaching their full potential. This mentality truly is exhausting. It wears us down and we begin to listen to that small voice in our heads that says, “You cannot do it.”
Tell that voice to shut up. That voice is what will break you down and will crush your dreams. It will paralyze you from taking that next step into the unknown.
Failure does not mean that we will never be successful or never reach our goals. It is an opportunity to start again. The privilege to realize that you have another chance to get it right.
Just because you are not where you want to be yet does not mean you will never get there. We exist on a constant spectrum of growth and learning. I do not believe that “perfection” is something we can ever really achieve. There is no end to learning and knowledge, so we will always exist within that spectrum of growth.
In 2011, Kathryn Schulz, journalist and author of “Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error,” gave a TED Talk entitled “On Being Wrong.” Through her talk, she discusses how many of us will do absolutely anything we can to avoid being wrong. We hate the way we feel whenever we realize we’ve failed at what we have done. She discusses how we have been programmed from a young age that getting something wrong means that we are not going to be successful in life.
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We must learn to realize that mistakes allow us to find a deeper understanding of the issues we are attempting to “solve.” People all hate to be wrong, but as we learn about failure, we learn about the way the world does not work. By learning to see the world in this way, it opens up a new realm of wonder and appreciating the beauty of mystery in the world.
No matter how many times we do not succeed, we can always come up with a new idea. A new mission. A new method.
That’s the beauty of failure.