Failure is a good option!


“Failure is NOT an option.” I really don’t like that phrase. (It’s from the Apollo 13 movie.)…I know, I know, it was meant to imply that it’s never a good idea to lose hope or give up.  We should always look  for alternatives.

However, I think many people perhaps look at that phrase from the wrong perspective.  “Well, unless I can get it right, I’m not going to try.”  “Unless I know I can succeed, I’m not willing to try to achieve something”.  “I’d rather not try than openly fail at something.”

That’s the danger of this phrase.  It doesn’t take into consideration that often times failure is just a precursor to success.  It might take three failures or four failures or even hundreds before you are able to succeed. Right now in tap dance class with my kids, we are trying to learn “Drawbacks” (brush, heal, step…brush, heal, step…).

One of my girls, after only trying a few times, said, “Oh, I can’t get it.”  She got frustrated and gave up.  She stopped trying.  The teacher and I had to talk with her, to get her to try again, and again, and again.  She eventually got it (after a few weeks of practice) and now walks around the house doing drawbacks.  She smiles at me, and says, “Mom, see how easy it is.  You can do it”.   She now encourages me since I still haven’t got it!  But I haven’t given up.  I’ll continue to work until I get it.  I know I’ll eventually get it, it’s just going to take time and practice.

I think success, personal or professional, comes down to your daily work habits, to your intrinsic motivation, to your willingness to fail, and to your motivation to keep trying.  In my weight watchers class, I remember the leader once saying, “The only failure is to give up and not try again.”  While I do believe that coaches and education (like our tap instructor) can help provide tools and strategies to facilitate the journey, it comes down to intrinsic (and sometimes extrinsic) motivation to succeed.

I saw a quote from Gary Vaynerchuk recently it read, “It’s my fundamental belief that hustling and hard work are underrated.” I couldn’t agree more. Many people give up and stop trying.  Sometimes they focus on perfection, instead of completion.  But often it’s that we just aren’t willing to put the required effort in that it takes to succeed.  It takes daily commitment to hard work and practice to get good at something.

For me, sometimes, I’ll think, well, I just have time for that.  But with time and practice and good coaching things gets easier.  I remember the first podcast that I wrote, it took me weeks (I’m not exaggerating) to write it.  Now, on a good day, I can write an episode in a few hours.  For things that are important, it’s worth the time an effort.  It’s worth failing several time, perhaps even hundreds of times, if each time you learn something (even if only something very small) that helps you do it better the next time.  Keep trying and you will improve.

I know this may sound like a big leap, but in my mind it’s not.  I have heard many people (including myself) say social media (or professional networking, or dieting, or living a healthy lifestyle or…) takes too much effort.  It takes too much work. I agree it does take work, especially in the beginning when you may not see direct results from your efforts.  But you have to trust that with every failure, you are really getting one step closer, one step better. As you work daily, you are making an investment in yourself and just like how I know that I’ll eventually learn how to do a tap drawback, you too have to trust that you will reach your goals.

To be clear, I’m not saying that anyone can do anything. No matter how much I practice basketball, I’ll never be a NBA player–but I can certainly get better at playing basketball.  It’s important to set realistic, achievable goals.

The real challenge in life is to choose the things we want to succeed at and to allow ourselves to fail (at first).  Failure is an option.  It’s a good option. Because it means you are one step closer to success. Failure to me, just means I’m trying to succeed.  Doing nothing–that’s not an option!

So what do you think?  What have you recently “failed” at that you are happy about?!

There is 1 comment .

Bernie Mayall

Lisa -I couldn’t agree more! Winston Churchill said (and I shamelessly use his quotes in my blog and in my weekly staff bulletins!) “Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.” Without the taste of a failure how could we appreciate the taste of a success? A wise and timely blog, Lisa – thank you.

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