The Upside of Failure

There's an upside to failureMost of us learned our lessons well as children. Failure = bad, useless, stupid. The clear pathway to success was NOT to fail.

We learned to fear failure, to avoid failure at all costs – and even to deny that we’d failed, by blaming someone or something outside of ourselves.

But some of the world’s greatest success stories were built on failure.

Stephen King threw his Carrie manuscript away because he was tired of being rejected. Luckily his wife fished it out of the garbage bin.

Henry Ford, who crashed out many times before tasting success, said: “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, only this time more intelligently”.

Richard Branson is no stranger to failure either. He believes being unafraid of failure is one of the most important qualities of a champion – in any field.

So you’ve challenged yourself, and fallen short? Here’s the upside of failure:

  • You had the guts to try
  • You’ll know that burying your head in the sand just gets your butt kicked (well, it’s a clear target, isn’t it?)
  • You won’t wait around for a miracle
  • You’ll recognise your mistakes and find ways to recover from them
  • You’ll hire good help, and collaborate with people you trust
  • You’ll be more determined to succeed next time – in fact, next time you’ll plan to succeed 
  • You’ll begin to lose your fear of failure – because you WILL survive, no matter how bad it feels at the time
  • You’ll find out that you’re stronger than you ever imagined
  • And you’ll keep aiming higher, because you’ll get a taste for rising to challenges.

A Newsweek photo series caption puts it best: “If at first you don’t succeed… you’re in good company.” 

Finally, from my most favourite speech by Theodore Roosevelt in 1910: If you fail, at least you will fail “while daring greatly. So that your place will never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory, nor defeat”.

So if you haven’t challenged yourself lately, be inspired. Dare to fail.