The Truth About Mistakes and Failure

This morning I bumped into someone’s profile picture that said “Failure is not an option.” Man, oh man… that always makes my skin crawl. Our relationship to mistakes and failure is something that always has baffled me. We grow up in a world that has raised us to believe that mistakes and failure are wrong. Unfortunately this fear of failing causes many of us to not take risks and go after our dreams. We’re afraid of being ridiculed or laughed at. We think that if we fail at something, we are “failures” or “losers”. Not only are we afraid of failing, but we also many times make fun of people who dare to take risks. Our first thought is “who does this person think that he or she is to  ___” (fill in the blank). We are afraid to admit that we fail sometimes too, somehow thinking that we will be labeled for life as someone who took a risk and “FAILED” Oh and forget attempting something risky more than once, HOLY COW! Then people will REALLY think that we’ve gone nuts!

When we raise children with the mentality that failure is not an option, they may, at the first risk of failure not even attempt said risk, or, much less reach for the stars. I have seen many people in my lifetime fall into a deep depression after having lost their job. In fact, many of us have been affected by the hard economic times these past few years. What if instead of focusing on (fill in the blank) failure, we focused on how to make our dreams a reality? Have you wondered what would happen then? What would your life be like if you just KNEW you couldn’t fail? What would you do? What dreams would you build? What would you attempt to do? What book would you write or piece of art would you create? What invention would you create? What fitness and weight loss goals would you reach? More importantly WHAT WOULD YOUR LIFE LOOK LIKE???

We’ve all heard about how Edison tried to make a light bulb and failed hundreds of times, but he didn’t give up, he kept trying. For the record, there isn’t really a reliable source that tells us how many times he actually failed… just know that it was many, many times. What if he had quit at the risk of being laughed at? Or even worse, what if he hadn’t actually tried? What if every crazy idea out there for the wonderful technological advances that we now have, had never been created because the inventor was afraid of failing… or had thought “failure is not an option, so I may as well just sit back and watch someone else do it.”

I say we change that mentality for once and instead of saying “failure and mistakes are not an option” we say “failure and mistakes are required.” Maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to inspire our children to reach for the stars and make their dreams a reality.  Better yet, why don’t we teach children by example while giving ourselves the requirement of not quitting when we’re faced with failure?

What if, we look at those who have succeeded before us as someone we can learn from, instead of being cynical about how they reached their success? What if, for once, we stopped being jealous and focused our energy into learning, growing, acquiring more knowledge and putting those lessons learned to good use? What if we teach others what WE’VE learned from our mistakes? I think that the world would be a much different place, don’t you?

“Failure is an event, not a person.” Zig Ziglar