Failure is Your Only Option: So Enjoy
Have you ever failed? Yes, of course you have. We all fail.
I know I have failed more times than I have succeeded. I find that it is through these failures that I have learned the most. If you really think about it, there is rarely a success without some failures first. Last time I went golfing, I kept trying to get par, but I kept failing. The 17 non-par holes were what helped me get to par on the 18th.
Like golf, life is challenging with lots of room for mistakes. I find that the fastest way to learn is to fail. I am first going to share with you the Old and New ways of thinking about failure. Then, I will explain how Christmas Lights made me smarter, and finally I’ll share a story about a friend of a friend who failed. Hopefully I can help you look at your failures differently; because it is your failures that help you find success.
In today’s fast-paced world of Instant Instagram, Friend Finding from Facebook, Twitter Tweeters, startups, startdowns, startlefts, startrights…There is an New Way of thinking about failure. Let’s call it the #NewWay.
Old Way: Do not fail! – It is a mentality that puts emphasis on being prepared, and being patient, waiting for the right opportunity to take action.
#NewWay: Success through failure. – It is a mentality to try new things, and if you fail, fail fast, then learn, and move forward. The #NewWay is all about success through failure and experiential learning.
Think of yourself on the side of a river – you can see the other side, and opportunity is waiting for you there. You need to get there. What do you do? The Old Way of thinking would be to wait for the tide to go down to hopefully expose rocks so that you can then leap-frog across, stone by stone, to get to the other side.
The #NewWay would be to run as fast as you can on top of the water, and if you fall in, hope that there are rocks under the surface. If there are no rocks, start swimming until you feel rocks under your feet.
Something I failed at, at an early age, was Christmas Lights. I grew up in Huntington Harbor and each Thanksgiving meant two things, Turkey, and Christmas lights. You see, my family is big on Christmas lights, and even bigger on boat parades. It has been a tradition to decorate our boat with as many lights as possible and then add a few more strands for good measure. #ButterflyBoat.
You see, for years I put up Christmas lights, making every mistake possible like stapling through the wires, electrocuting myself, not placing the plugs near outlets, breaking bulbs, not having tall enough ladders, and I even fell out of a tree one time.
Through these failures, I got really good at hanging lights, and earned a reputation in my neighborhood. Building off of this, when I was 12 years old, guess what my first business was… yeah, hanging Christmas lights. I considered it a success, and learned many great lessons over the years, mainly because I failed so many times.
I challenge you to think the #NewWay
I have a friend who has a friend who was one of the best swimmers in the USA in high school. The kid seemed to win every swim meet he entered. He got a full-ride to a prestigious school on a swimming scholarship. He swam hundreds of races in college, but he never won any. Not one. Hundreds of races and never got first place.
Is he a failure?
Or was it just his luck that he had a teammate named Michael Phelps? You see failure is all perspective, and if you frame your failures in terms of your learning objectives, then they can be the building blocks of success.
Michael Jordan once said, “I can accept failing, but I cannot accept not trying.” So keep trying, and embrace the #NewWay of thinking about failure, take chances, learn firsthand from your mistakes, and celebrate the failures.