Failing to Fail Means You Might Fail
Failure. As a kid I always hated the idea of failing. I was one of those kids who needed to get the best marks on tests, get the best attendance, needed the teachers to like them, I needed to feel like I had the whole school thing down. I remember once I got a five minute detention (the only detention I ever got) and I was devastated. The night before I had an idea of what was about to come and I actually prayed that I wouldn’t get a detention and that the day would go ahead with no close calls. I was wrong. The next day I got what I thought was coming to me and I cried for a whole hour straight. It was a five minute detention. I was what most people would call a total and utter teacher’s pet. And I was okay with that, because school was my thing. The one thing I never wanted to do, was fail.
As we get older, we get more opportunities to fail or maybe we are just more aware of them and we’ve all heard the notion that if you don’t fail then you aren’t really learning. Although it feels painful to fail, it’s mostly a good thing because you are learning. So, I used the power of the internet to understand what great failures are out there to understand what I could learn from them.
After learning that Beyonce failed to win a show called Star Search at aged nine. Yes nine. I was beginning to get a little bit disheartened. Bill gates first company failed at aged seventeen. Again, my will-power dwindling.
Then I stumbled onto an oldie but a goodie. Thomas Edison holds 1,093 patents to his name. It’s quite clear he was a gifted inventor. When trying to make the lightbulb he failed 10,000 times.
The lightbulb. I can’t quite imagine modern day life without it and yet it took some genius 10,000 attempts to make it. If that’s not a lesson in preserving I don’t know what is. And it made me think that the reason we are scared to fail is because we fear what other people think. So we avoid it. It’s all well and good saying that failure leads to success but no-one actually wants to fail. No-one actually wants to feel like a failure. Everyone judges the person that is failing.
However, the great thing about trying and failing is that the ego is removed. There is nothing quite like knowing you are putting all your effort into doing something and no-one cares. It’s humbling to know that you are not getting noticed or not getting anywhere but you continue anyway because you enjoy the process and that’s all that matters to you. I think pursuing something because you believe in what you are doing and it doesn’t really matter about the results, at least initially, is something to get comfortable with. If you can continue to produce in a time where you aren’t getting noticed then it means when you are, you’ll have no issues carrying on. The problem with seeking external validation that what you are doing is right, is that you never really know what you want vs what someone else wants.
As kids we are trained to seek external validation. Winning a trophy, a good mark on your test, getting into University. Irrelevant of the fact that you actually wanted to compete all of those things, it doesn’t matter as long as you get a trophy and you definitely do not fail. Pursuing mindless success and a path of comfortability could be the fastest way to not get where you want to be.
Sometimes we feel like we should be on the straight and narrow. Like if you are not achieving ‘x’ by twenty five then we are deemed for long term failure and that’s it. You’ve ruined it. But from what I can gather, most people that have had any sort of success always fail and fail often. By trying to constantly not fail, are we potentially avoiding the life lessons and the skills we need to fully succeed? If you tip-toe your way through, trying to make all the right choices that you think makes sense and you think society wants from you, it could be the fastest way to get where you don’t want to be. Some people say that the biggest risk you could take is following the status quo and taking the job because it seems right rather than it actually being right.