It’s OK To Fail. Actually, learn to be friends with failure.
The worst thing you can ever do is stop trying. You will stumble. You will fall. But in time, you will learn and grow. With the exception of the lucky try, you will fail a lot in the beginning. Even when you succeed you will still fail more and more because you try more and more. So why try? Because it’s those successes that make everything worth it.
Most of us weren’t straight A, 100% all the time students. Why? Because that’s a really hard thing to do. But more so, that 100% on everything all the time is near impossible and most of the time impractical … but that’s a story for another time. Since we weren’t always getting 100%’s on everything, what were we getting?
Hopefully you learned a bit in class, had some homework that you struggled through, messed up on, re-did and eventually took a small test to brush up on your skills. Slowly and surely your knowledge base expanded and you learned newer and better methods and ways to do the work, especially as new types of problems approached.
But the thing is, for most of us: we sucked at pretty much everything the first time we did it. And that’s true for everyone on pretty much every subject in school, in real life, at work and even in relationships.
Heck, once humans make first contact with aliens we’ll probably suck at that too!
But that’s ok! We’re not perfect and neither is anyone else, even if they seem like it.
The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel. — Steve Furtick
We all struggle, we all fail and we all (hopefully) learn from it. Let’s take a big name example first.
Marshall Bruce Mathers III, also know as: Eminem. His youth and early adult life were, let’s just say less than spectacular. He failed at many things, including at self-control, but that didn’t stop him from trying. He learned from his failures, even though they hurt, they sucked and ate away at him. Through his failures and tough youth, he learned to rap, sing and perform. Do you really think that the first time he recorded a rap song he was great at it? I don’t mean recording this first professional album. I mean his first actual recording he did to test things out himself.
How about Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Michael Phelps? When they first tried their respective sport, they were all like you and I. They were horrible at it. Michael Jordan could barely shoot the ball, Tiger couldn’t even hit the gold ball off of the tee correctly and Michael Phelps kinda sorta flopped around like a fish out of water (except he was in the water … ok, ignore my bad joke).
How about you? Can you play the piano well? Drive a car ‘normally’? How about walking? Talking? Cooking? Drawing? Anything really. Were you good when you first tried those?
When I first tried learning to play the piano, I was horrible at it. Absolutely horrible. I’m still horrible at it because I don’t practice much anymore, but I’m not as bad as when I first started. I ‘failed’ a lot in the beginning. I knew a piano had white keys, black keys and foot peddles … and that’s as far as I knowledge extended. When I tried playing it the first time I kinda sorta smashed the keys and scared a few cats in the process. Lots of swearing and repairs (and time) later, I could sort of play Canon In D. then Canon in F#. Then some easy and slow piano pieces from anime and movies.
But it certainly was no walk in the park. Any one song I tried to play took hours upon hours upon days and weeks to even (partially) properly play the first page of notes! But I was ok with that. I loved it!
Don’t think that failing over and over again is just for music or sports. You’ll have a lot of firsts and screw ups in real life and business:
- First public speech.
- First public humiliation in front of a big name client.
- First ‘asking for the sale’.
- First asking the cute girl at the bar out on a date.
- First kid.
- First day of school for the kid(s).
- First blog post.
- First client.
- First client who fires you because you screwed up.
- First business partner.
- First business partner who screws you over because you didn’t write up the agreement properly nor handle business well.
- First failed business adventure.
- First car crash.
- First time some-one says yes to something big.
You’ll fail many times. But if you learn from it, you’ll grow and become a better person. If you crash, learn to drive a little bit better or pay attention a little bit more. First failed business partnership: learned to set expectations better, manage partnership and write agreements better.
The truth of life is that even after you’ve had a lot of ‘firsts’, you will still fail. You’ll always come up against a wall, a new problem, something that you’ve never needed to pay attention to before now needs attention …
The beauty of life is the sheer satisfaction of overcoming them and turning into the great person you were meant to be.
Below is a comic by Stephen McCraine “Be Friends With Failure”. It’s a beautiful short comic which is well worth your time. Click the graphic below to go to his comic.