I believe that failure is a critical component to ultimate success.
So, I was surprised when, after reading Rework and hearing one of its authors, Jason Fried, on Mixergy, I began agreeing with one of their arguments: That although failure may sometimes show you what not to do, it rarely shows what to do. They believe, therefore, that failure is becoming too highly regarded.
My mind reeled for weeks thinking about this – it challenged one of my core beliefs. Have I been wrong to be so passionate about the importance of embracing failure?
I’ve grown up as the son of a psychiatrist. People usually assume that’s tough on a kid, but my Dad went easy on me and I learned a lot by observing how he interacted with people. Friends would sometimes casually discuss minor issues with him and a common theme in his response was the importance of exposure.
In other words, consistently facing your fears, a little bit at a time until they’re completely purged from your life.
The reason that failing is important is because it is what we are so afraid of. The possibility of failure always stands between us and what we most want for ourselves.
The only way to get over that fear is to expose ourselves to it. To fail and realize that it really isn’t so bad; that actually, its kind of exhilarating. To realize that just getting to the point of failure, whether we escape intact or not, feels incredibly good.
Failure is a sign that, in addition to doing a few things wrong that you can fix later, you also did a whole ton right to get to that breaking point at all.
Embracing failure means losing our apprehensions to think big and take risks that have the potential to make lasting impact.
The alternative is to be one of the many people who don’t fail or succeed at the things that matter the most to them – they’re making far more mistakes than the person failing.
Someone that wants to create improvements in their life doesn’t need immediate success, they need motion. Accepting the possibility of failure from the start dissolves an enormous weight that makes it easy to get moving. As you develop momentum, you’ll naturally course correct as you go.
And the guys from Rework get this, “Don’t wait for the perfect solution…Decide and move forward…If you make a mistake you can correct it later.”
It’s telling that most people believe the importance of failure is “to learn from your mistakes and not make them again.” This feeling is still based on fear of failure, on not failing a second time.
I believe that it doesn’t matter if you learn from your failures – sometimes you will, sometimes you won’t.
What matters is that you challenge yourself, take risks, teeter on the edge and realize that failing is not something to fear, but rather to embrace.