Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

Failure: The Great Equalizer

Lately, I have been talking about fear in my posts.

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Fear of failure is probably the number one reason people don’t try to achieve their dreams. Nobody wants to fail at something. But I have a secret to share…

Everyone will fail at something.

Failure is the great equalizer. If you get out of bed each day and go out into the world and try to do something – anything! – you will occasionally fail. It’s the one thing that everyone on earth has in common.

Some people may be reading this, shaking their heads and saying, Nope, not me. I have never failed at anything, nor will I ever fail at anything I attempt in the future… Bullpucky!

If you have never failed, you have never reached outside your comfort zone. If you don’t plan on failing in the future, you are planning on living out the days of your life wrapped in bubble wrap and never interacting with anyone else.

You may be a world class athlete, but you may fail at your first attempt at baking. You may be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, but you may have zero flexibility and those advanced yoga poses will beat you. You may be a concert pianist, but fail big time when you try to do your own taxes. You may be perfect 99% of the time in your chosen field, or when working on a task you have done many times, but you will fail the other 1% of the time. You will make mistakes.

Failure is how the universe teaches us. We learn to walk, by crawling and falling down a lot. We learn to talk by babbling in gibberish no one can understand at first. We learn to complete our school work by getting some answers wrong, and we learn to succeed in our chosen careers by making mistakes.

The trick is learning from the mistakes, the failures, the missteps.

If we fail at something and do not take away a lesson on how to do it better, or maybe how not to do it in the future, then we fail twice.

The beauty of failure is its ability to teach us how to succeed. We shouldn’t fear it. Failure, to some extent, is inevitable. I am not saying that we should not care about the outcome, that we shouldn’t strive to succeed. But we shouldn’t let our fear of failure freeze us in our tracks and keep us from even trying.

There is a Japanese proverb that puts it in perspective:

Fall down seven times, get up eight.

Great advice. If it is something worth doing, and doing well, you will get back up.

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3 Comments

  1. One of my favorite sayings is “I am not perfect, I will make mistakes, but I will learn from my mistakes & try not to do it again.”

    • Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
      -Ralph Waldo Emerson

      One of my favorite quotes… Posted on my computer at work to help me remember.

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