It happens to everyone, and it happens all the time. We feel it at work, in our relationships, and even just with ourselves. It’s terrifying, it’s nerve-wracking, and it’s inescapable. I’m talking, of course, of the universal truth known as failure.
We’ve been conditioned our entire lives to avoid failure. School taught us that failing is the worst possible outcome. Our friends taught us that failure is humiliating and an offense worthy of ridicule. Our minds taught us that failure is a fate worse than death. I’m here to tell you, though, that failure is good.
That’s right, failure, the big F, is the single most important thing you’ll ever do.
Why do I say failure is so important? Because it’s through failure that we learn everything. How did you learn to not touch a hot stove? Probably by touching it as a child and failing to have an enjoyable time doing so. What about learning how to interview for a job? I’m fairly certain that all of you have had at least one job interview that didn’t result in a job offer. In those instances, the failure to secure that sought-after job taught you something. It may have been how to present the information on your resume, or even how to better present yourself. Whatever it was, your failure taught you something that you now carry forever.
Failure has a negative connotation, but today I want to introduce you to the positive side of failure. Today I want to tell you why failing is good.
(Quick note: there is failure from trying, and failure from not trying. Today we’re focusing on failure from trying.)
FAIL AT WORK, I DARE YOU
Regardless of the effect Blink-182 had on your perception of work, we all want to succeed at our jobs. It’s nice to be lauded for our efforts and to be appreciated for the work we’ve done, which is why when our expectations and our reality don’t match, our heart sinks a little bit, and our entire mindset shifts.
Ever have your boss ask you for something, and after putting in a good amount of work and being proud of the outcome, you send it to them only to have them tell you that isn’t what they were looking for? It sucks doesn’t it? No matter what your boss’s intentions are, that swagger you were walking around with that morning is gone and you’re now questioning your abilities as a worker. Contrary to popular belief this is good.
It’s good for a few of reasons: 1) you tried and regardless of the outcome and trying is better than not trying, 2) you’ve learned something, and 3) you will internalize this feeling and do whatever you can to avoid having it again.
Trust me, your boss, and your coworkers, would rather you try and fail, than not try at all. It’s better for the company and it’s better for you. It teaches you that failing isn’t going to kill you.
So, what are you waiting for? Take on an unfamiliar task, get yourself out of your comfort zone, and fail. Fail a bunch and learn from it.
FAIL WITH YOURSELF
Work is a terrifying place to fail, but what about the time you spend outside of work? Failure away from work is more vital because those experiences of failure are what mold you into the person you are and the person you continue to be.
Think about it this way, you’re out on the town and come across an incredibly attractive person. You can either walk up to them and strike up a conversation, or you can be afraid of the rejection and avoid the situation altogether. What do you do? Avoid the situation out of fear of rejection (failure from not trying), or walk over there and strike up a convo? Yes, this may end in rejection, but at least you put yourself out there and learned something new (how to strike up a conversation, the type of person you want to be around etc.).
This obviously applies to more than just relationships. Don’t be afraid to fail at cooking, or sports, or even writing. You could be the best athlete among your friends but one of these days you’re going to step out on the field and strike out, or drop a pass, or miss the game winning shot. It happens…to all of us.
Like the great Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
Failure is key to life. It teaches us about who we are and what we want, and it propels us forward. Embrace it.
Until next time – give it your best shot