Failure. There is more hatred and misunderstanding associated with this word than with almost any other word in the English language. Hear the word even just once, and your mind immediately takes you back to many of the biggest moments in your life where you…well…failed. We hate this word. But is it fair to assign so much loathing to a word that, in the long run, does so much for us?
What the h-e-double hockey stick are you talking about, Bill?! I’m glad you asked. Failure is how we grow. We don’t…we can’t succeed without failure first forcing us to become bigger and better. When I was younger, I loved my Atari video games. Combat, Asteroids, and Space Invaders were my favorites. I stunk when I first started playing. However, given enough failure, I began to succeed and then it was hard to beat me. My failures – and there were many – created my successes. Those who succeeded from the beginning, didn’t work on getting better. As I worked on breaking past my failure, their success turned into failure, as they weren’t growing out of their failures – I was out of mine. Then, in their new failure, they would work hard in order to succeed. They would fail until they succeeded – you get it.
Thomas Edison, after being asked about 10,000+ failures en route to creating the first working lightbulb, said, “I haven’t failed – I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Our kids today are coddled way too much. We don’t want them to experience failure. You can’t hold them back in school. They all need a participation trophy. They need ‘Safe Zones’ at schools and colleges. They don’t experience the failure they need, so there is no growth, ensuring no success. In our rush to save our kids from failure, we have thrust perpetual failure upon them.
One of my good friends, Mike McCleary (we call him Teacher Mike), shared a great article on unpopular teacher opinions. They’re all good – and worthy of their own topic on my blog, but I especially like #10 for this entry. Read it here. There are great lessons to be learned through failure. These lessons allow us to grow and attain that desired success.
Success is wrapped up in failure. To get to the success, you must go through failure. The bigger the success, the more failure you need to unwrap. In the history of…well, history, there has never been a time when someone grew because of success. No, once they succeed, they simply continue to do what they did to succeed. Growth only comes through failure. Don’t be afraid of failure; embrace it. It’s the failure that will create your success.