Strategy

Fail Your Way To Success

February 6, 2015

Keep avoiding failure, I dare you… How’s that working out? The fact is, failures are the secret and most powerful ingredient to success!

You may be asking yourself, really? No way? It can’t be true – failing sucks! Truth be told, no one loves to fail but those who fail often come back and win. Does that make you feel annoyed? Frustrated? Well it shouldn’t because it’s the truth!

Woody Allen’s thoughts on failure.

Early in life, failure often is viewed as taboo and something to avoid at all costs. Growing up, I can recall comments such as, “Do your homework or you’re going to fail!” “If you fail, you’ll be left behind” or my favorite, “If you fail, people will think you’re stupid.”

I’m sure we have all heard well-meaning supporters say these things in our homes, schools or worse, in the workplace. Society has taught us to believe that if we fail, we will not amount to anything important. What’s scarier is that our society continues to kill off creativity, curiosity and the ability to change things; while rewarding people for status quo thinking, obeying orders and coloring inside the lines.

Let’s be clear; I’m not advocating we go out and fail at everything all the time. I’m advocating that we change our view of failure; that as a society we must encourage and often reward failure and view it as an integral part of learning, which ultimately leads to success!

Failure Is Directly Linked To Success

What many think the path to success looks like versus what it actually looks like.

I’ve been told I’m a very visual person. In fact, I try to have a whiteboard in every area of our office at Roma Moulding because I love seeing the magic come to life first hand. Having said that, I’m going to show you a few diagrams that I feel will help illustrate my view. I believe many people have a gross and often misinterpreted vision of what the road to success looks like. Illustrated here, people often think success is a nice smooth upward trajectory with nothing but sunny days, warm breezes and easy sailing.

Sorry to burst your bubble but it’s not. Often, it’s a hot mess of reverses, turns, spirals, ups and downs, followed by feelings of trepidation, fear and maybe even nausea as you venture into cold and unchartered waters! What separates the winners, the people who really want to succeed, is the ability to alter their view of failure. As Ron Friedman states in, The Best Place to Work, “Accepting failure doesn’t just make risk-taking easier. In a surprising number of instances, it’s the only reliable path to success.”

The Dirty Secret Others Don’t Want You To Know About Failure

Oscar-winning actress and singer, Jennifer Hudson.

Successful people fail more than us! There, now you know. Don’t believe me? Ok, well then believe them:

  1. After being cut from his high school basketball team, Michael Jordan went home, locked himself in his room and cried.
  2. Walt Disney was fired from his job at a newspaper for lacking imagination and having no original ideas.
  3. Albert Einstein wasn’t able to speak until he was almost 4 years old and his teachers said he would never amount to anything.
  4. Jennifer Hudson was ousted off American Idol and told she was out of her depth in the competition. She went home and cried for days before picking herself up on the way to selling more than 1,280,000 albums and winning an Oscar.
  5. At 30 years old, Steve Jobs found himself devastated, humiliated and depressed after being fired from the company he started.

Edison achieved and failed more than most will.

One of my personal favorites of so-called famous failures is that of Thomas Edison. Edison may hold the world record on failures. It’s stated that Edison failed 10,000 times before successfully creating the world’s most reliable light bulb. Edison ultimately owes his breakthrough to his ability to alter his definition of failure. As said by Edison, “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” It was his tenacity and altered view of failure that led him to persevere!

The real failure is not trying or giving up! Whether you’re an athlete, singer, musician, artist, speaker, parent, or entrepreneur – keep trying new things. It’s up to us to continue to shape our world, shape our experiences and aim to make the world a better place. Although not easy, we must alter our view of failure and view it as a necessary and vital step to success!

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
– Thomas Edison.

In the end, no one remembers your failures anyway – so go out, be fearless, be bold and eliminate the ways it won’t work while finding the way to win! Always remember to enjoy the ride!

Happy Failing!

Tony Gareri

CEO & Culture Enthusiast

Drawing from firsthand experiences, Tony addresses how a culture evolution can lead to improved business results and happier work environments.

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