Monday, July 11, 2011

Failure: an Outcome

Last week this quote flashed around my social media pages and I even received it via text. It wouldn't go away.

"It was scarier not to try than to try and fail." - Carrie Wilkerson

I've been risk-discussion averse for a long time, mostly due to my own unresolved feelings about failure. As I write this today, I find that I'm glad I have not succeeded in some things I intensely attempted. Figuring this out has not been pretty, but it is important. Future choices will be built on these acknowledgments.

Many high-stake personal and professional risks totally bomb in terms of outward success. A lot of people don't talk about it. After a few well thought out risks go wrong, it can be tough to step back onto the ledge. It can feel irresponsible to dare to go for it again. That's why I want the "Now That You've Failed" guide.

The "Now That You've Failed" guide would be a great feedback manual. It would welcome the reader to the post-risk-recovery area, the other side of the fear of failure. The place where courage is acknowledged, strengths and weaknesses are assessed, and the faulty game-plan is reverse-engineered to evaluate the exact moment(s) it went wrong. How else can progress occur?

I am especially in favor of the fail fast model. If its not working, make it not work quickly! Figure it out and move forward. Lingering too long, trying to save a sinking ship is unnecessarily draining.

Sometimes success/fail measures in life are more like getting a belt promotion in martial arts. You do some things pretty well. Sometimes you make stupid mistakes, or miss your angle (repeatedly, for years). Some days you bang your head against the steering wheel of your car (I do this), ready to quit, but you don't. Then out of seemingly nowhere you get a promotion. Then you must train harder and smarter, and do it all again.

Does failure motivate or defeat? A giant trajectory follows the answer. The experience of losing begins to eliminate the fear of losing, building a stronger constitution. Learning from mistakes makes the likelihood of success much higher. Finding the right balance between sanity and reaching too far too fast is vital.

Failure happens, sometimes a lot. Failure is no reason to stop pursuing something important.

As Dave Checkett said: “Success builds character, failure reveals it.”

1 comment:

  1. If you either find or write that guide book, please let me know. :-)