Embracing the ‘F’ Word
Failure. It’s never easy is it?
I read a statement from the publisher of Success Magazine and author of The Compound Effect that he LOVES failure. That seems a little sadistic to me because failure is just simply painful most of the time.
As any healthy family does from time to time, we recently had a bump in the road at home. Barb and Olivia got into it over something minor and before we knew it the whole situation had become bigger than life. Things were said out of anger and I can honestly say that I failed the fathering test for the night and Olivia failed in the daughter role. Love failure? I certainly know that I didn’t love the pain that ensued for the next couple of days but do I love the outcome? Most definitely. We love our daughter more than ever and I think we all made the most of the lessons learned and have grown even closer.
We are all failures – at least the best of us are.
-J. M. Barrie
While I do not love failure, I do agree that embracing failure and benefiting from the lessons that can be learned is what separates the average from the great. Leadership expert Peter Drucker states, “The better a man is, the more mistakes he will make, for the more new things he will try. I would never promote to a top-level job a man who was not making mistakes … otherwise he is sure to be mediocre.” The road to achievement is certainly paved by lessons from failures. Author and business consultant John Maxwell goes on to share, “The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure. Nothing else has the same kind of impact on people’s ability to achieve and to accomplish whatever their minds and hearts desire.”
It’s often interesting where reminders come from. Olivia and I spent a late summer day spending some time with her friend James Ociti as we took his senior pictures. James has the gift of speed, he can pick his feet up and put them down faster than almost anyone I know. In fact, last winter in the State of Maine indoor track championship he broke the standing state record in the 400 meter dash with just a little setback … the person a quarter of a stride in front of him broke it too! He had to settle for second place and now holds the second fastest time ever run in the State of Maine. For anyone else his performance was quite an accomplishment, but for James his goal to be the fastest in the State and hold the record hit a roadblock. Fortunately for James, the current State record holder has graduated and as he gets set to compete in his senior year, he’s a year older and stronger with a shot to grab the record. On the way home from the photo shoot I made a comment about the challenges of failure. James responded with a comment of someone more mature than his 17 years, “Failure can only make us stronger for what doesn’t kill us can make us better.” If we could all simply remember this during times of failure we would be well on our way to greater things ahead.
The truth is that most successful people embrace failure with the understanding that though there is pain there is little chance of success without it. I guess it is the old ‘no pain no gain’ mantra. Basketball coach Rick Pitino states, “Failure is good. It’s fertilizer. Everything I’ve learned about coaching I’ve learned from making mistakes.” Darren Hardy shares, “Success is not that exhilarating or satisfying to those who produce great results. Failure is, for it offers them the greatest opportunity to tweak, iterate and improve. Failure offers them a gateway to the next level, which is absolutely exhilarating, satisfying and thrilling.” Kyle Rote, Jr. shares, “There is no doubt in my mind that there are many ways to be a winner, but there is really only one way to be a loser and that is to fail and not look beyond the failure.”
Maybe we won’t all set new state records but by learning to embrace failure, tolerating its short lived pain, and gaining the gold nuggets of wisdom that failure offers we can all accomplish things that may seem improbable.