Say YES to Failure…Really

Life is scary. Even minor changes – a new assignment, a new boss, hiring new team members, taking on new obligations – can trigger unforeseen pangs of fear. That’s OK. In fact, it’s perfectly natural. Weird as it sounds, fear is even good for us. Here are some thing you won’t hear that often: failure is also good for us. We try fail and adapt again, and again. By dreaming big and falling hard, we inspire ourselves and each other.

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

Our language is full of platitudes like, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” But these phrases are ubiquitous because they’re just true. We too often let fear of the unknown or failure stop us. It’s one thing to be unsure about how to start, or if you are short on funding or expertise. It’s another to not start because you’re afraid to fail.

Here’s another one of those inspirational phrases: if you never start, then you’ve already failed. Did you know over Oprah Winfrey was fired from an early TV job because producers thought she was “unfit for television?”

Did you know after graduating law school Sandra Day O’Connor (who would become a US Supreme Court Justice) was turned down by at least 40 law firm she applied to? When she was finally hired by one, she was forced to work without a salary and shared a desk the secretaries.

These women 1 million others were determined to plow ahead. They didn’t just believe in themselves in their abilities, they believed in the validity of their dream. Every time they failed, they learned something, honed their skills, and charged forward.

Failure as Success

Facing years of crippling, economic depression, in the onset of world war, Franklin Roosevelt’s famously, said, “we have nothing to fear, but fear itself.” We can take those words to mean don’t let fear paralyze you. Here’s what the always astonishing, Eleanor Roosevelt said on the subject “do one thing which scares you every day. “

The worst that can happen is a good lesson, and what not to do the next time. But if we never try, if we let fear paralyzes, we never get anywhere. If you know how to ride a bicycle, it’s probably because you scanned a new year to you as a kid.

Alan Shepard, a test pilot, and a second person in space is credited with saying, “any landing you can walk away from is a good one.” But the quote itself actually predates Shepherd by a few years, and may have been the founding principle of aviation. What madness to hurl yourself into the sky. It’s almost certain those early aviators graveled with powerful fear. But rather than let anxiety slow them down, they used it as a springboard for innovation.

In a way, the most productive thing you can do is fail at some thing. There’s no greater teacher. Fail, but don’t give up. Analyze, what went right, what went wrong, and what some possible solutions could be. Where are your technical skills in need of improvement? Is there a timing issue? Do you need to expand your support network or client base? Are they complementary interest industries you can partner with? It’s very likely you won’t have answers to any of these questions until you flop. So flop, well, pay attention, and then try again.

For more guidence on failing and getting back up, IAW member, Desi Tahiraj, wrote a book titled Fail & Get Up & Never Give Up: The Power of Transformation. You can get your copy of her book here and learn more about the IAW community she is apart of here.

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