Why Failure is Essential to Success



The fear of failure holds many of us back from reaching for goals that are important to us. We can easily lose sight of the fact that failure is an opportunity for learning and to see something that is not yet working. Failing can be a sign that there is something we yet need to understand that is just on the other side of our current knowledge threshold.


Have you ever wondered how Elon Musk managed to build a successful, zero emissions green car? He absolutely did not do it on his first attempt! He was willing to fail repeatedly and publicly on his mission to succeed.


Medical researchers who are engaged in finding a cure for cancer are willing to fail thousands of times to get closer to figuring out the answer. Terry Fox failed to complete his fund-raising journey across Canada due to the recurrence of his cancer but this failure led to The Terry Fox Run, that ignited cancer research in Canada, raising more than $850 million.


Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers tells us that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert. Experts expect to meet up with frustration, failure and boredom. Not a lot of individuals have the perseverance to push through repeated failures and setbacks. Is it any surprise that we have so few true experts?


Admitting that you don't know something makes you more likely to strive to find the answers. Assume you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by your learning experiences. Recognize that life is not all black and white and that some things you learn only by repeated attempts and being open to alternative ways of seeing a situation. By expecting to not have all the answers, you're more likely to find them.


It takes a lot of tenacity and courage to take repeated failures in stride. Failure is an opportunity to learn about approaches that did not have the expected results. Failure is simply an excuse to see something that is not yet working. It is a mandate to move on and try again, perhaps from a slightly different angle.


Learn to see that failure is not who you are, but something you experience

With this kind of an attitude, failure simply becomes part of the growth process.

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