“I can’t do that. What if it doesn’t work?”
When you think something might work and you try it, you’re doing exactly what Edison, the Wright Brothers, Einstein, Ben Franklin, and (name your favorite historical figure here), did. You’ve created a “what if?” and tested it. I cannot tell you how exciting, challenging, creative, and intelligent that is.
So why do we berate ourselves for failing?
Our society has conditioned us to blame those who fail- even if they’re back on their feet, trying again while we’re slinging mud at their door.
“He lost seven million dollars”
“She missed the gold medal by an eighth of a second.”
“She yelled at her kid in front of the whole store.”
“He lost another job.”
“They’re getting a divorce.”
There are so many things that we’re conditioned to believe are failures. In the examples above, when’s the last time you or I made seven million dollars to lose it? Have you ever competed in the Olympics? I haven’t. I also haven’t met the perfect parent who knew exactly how to handle their children (who also actually had children). The genius, the magic, the celebration is in the fact that you tried.
We’re so darn afraid of failing we don’t try anything at all. But what does failure really feel like?
I’ll tell you.
It feels like, “Oh, that makes sense, now that I’ve done it.” and “I wonder if this will work instead?” and “Wow, that was fun.” and “Let me tell you what I’ve tried…”
Failure is a blessing.
Failure is not something that should be shamed and blamed, but celebrated. When you’re trying something, you don’t know how it will turn out. If you knew, you wouldn’t need to try it (or you’d make a calculated move to achieve exactly the result you want.)
When you do something and it doesn’t work, you learn why. Failure inspires you to do something else, to tweak this or that. Imagining failure has none of these benefits. Imagining that you’ll fail just makes you fearful and stuck. But real failure will inspire you.
Failure is genius.
Terence on flickr