Most of us don’t like the idea of failing and I understand why. It sounds negative, defeating, and deflating. It’s all we can do to even hear the word but to make it our most important resolution of the new year? That’s just plain insanity.
Or is it?
Isn’t the famous definition of insanity “doing the same things while expecting different results?” If that’s true (and it is), and you’ve spent most of your life trying to avoid failure, then perhaps embracing failure could be just the thing that propels you into your best year yet.
Here are 5 reasons why:
Failure isn’t fatal but the fear of failure is
I’m not going to suggest that we should start liking failure, but I am going to suggest that we stop fearing it. Have you ever wondered how many inventions, ideas or books were never created just because of the fear of failure? In a culture full of participation trophies, perhaps the best thing we could do is teach the next generation how to try, fail, and survive. I’m convinced that nothing would strengthen our nation more than a healthy dose of failure because failure brings us to a critical point of decision.
Failure forces us to decide if it’s worth it
One of my favorite proverbs is found in the Bible, and it simply says that even though a righteous man falls seven times, he gets back up. The obvious questions, of course, is why get back up if you keep getting knocked down? The answer is just as obvious: because whatever we’re fighting for is worth it. Failure is what brings us to that critical point where we decide whether or not we’re going to stay in and keep at it even though it would be easier to step out and quit.
Failure makes us find a better way
You failed, and that failure helped you realize that the fight, the journey, the pursuit, is worth it. Now what? You dig in and determine to find a better way. I love the story about Thomas Edison’s reaction when the plant where he worked on his inventions burned to the ground. He calmly said to his son, “We just got rid of a lot of rubbish.” While he lost almost a million dollars in the fire, his team went on to produce ten times that much in the year after the fire. When we accept setbacks as setups, we unlock the power of this truth: our best days almost always follow our worst days.
Failure allows us to succeed with humility
Perhaps the biggest benefit to resolving to fail forward this year is this: when you do succeed (and you will succeed!), people will actually want to celebrate with you because your failures will allow you to succeed with humility. Let’s face it, nobody likes a success who is still convinced that it’s all about them, and there is nothing like a dose or two of failure to remind all of us that success hinges on a whole lot more than our abilities and creativity.
My advice to you (and to myself) is simple: dream big, fail often, and never stop pursuing the success that is waiting just on the other side of the blow that knocked you down.
So get up, dust off, and be thankful that you’re one failure closer to the fulfillment of the dream.