‘Failure, what a bitch!’ – Me, at 17, when I didn’t get in to the Air Force the first time round. You can probably add a few more expletives between ‘what a’ and ‘bitch’ when I didn’t get in the second time around.
Failure is one of humanities greatest fears. Personally I think it is trumped only by two other fears. The first being Rejection. The second being the ever so common, ‘Does my bum look big in this?’ question. Scary for women, because, well their bum might look big. Equally as scary for men, because the wrong answer could mean the end of their relationship/marriage/life.
To me, failure is one of life’s many inevitabilities. You will learn to walk, you will breathe in and out, you will have a friend on the same wavelength of a three year old and you will fail at something. (If you don’t know who the friend is, it might be you).
Honestly, I failed at almost all of the things I’ve tried to this date. Joining the Air Force, trying to play American Football for Great Britain, staying in higher education, managing money and having girlfriends. Pretty much all the things it’s possible to make a mess of, I have done.
And you know what? I’m proud of each and every one of these mistakes, these poor choices and these ‘failures’. They’ve made my life what it is today. They brought me here, sat in front of this computer, connecting with each and every one of you readers out there.
I can thank them all for opening doorways in to travel, to new connections, to changes in myself both professionally and personally. They taught me to re-evaluate, to learn what to do when there is a road block in the way and how to cope when everything you ever thought you wanted slips through your hands and stains your favourite shoes.
Anyone who makes a mistake should be proud of them, in the words of Benjamin Franklin, ‘I have never failed, I just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work’. Each one is a lesson, a blessing or an opportunity in disguise.
The fact that you are out there, failing and making mistakes. Scribbling on pieces of paper, drawing terrible art and writing pieces of absolute garbage that belong nowhere else but underneath a tin of soup in the trash can. It shows that you are actually doing something. Going out of your way to make yourself better. Making waves, creating inroads in the direction you wish to travel. After all, ‘The man who makes no mistakes is unlikely to make anything’ (– Paul Arden).
The people who tell you that you’ve failed. The ones who mock. Those who’s judgment of us clouds and suppresses our creativity. Those are the people who are doing nothing. Who have accepted themselves to be ‘failures’, who no longer have any ambition other than to be vampires who drain the life out of those who still dare to dream.
There are no statues erected to vampires. There is no place in history for critics. No hall of fame, no Superbowl rings or Nobel Prizes for the people who said that you couldn’t.
Do not be afraid of failure. All of the greats have done it. Michael Jordan didn’t make his high school basketball team, Bill Gates’ first company failed – so much so that the product he created didn’t even work – and Richard Branson invested in Virgin Cola, which, well, can you remember ever drinking it? I can’t.
So now go, go out and fail. Go and try something new, something different and something you’ve been meaning to do. Try it, make a mess of it and learn from it. You never know, you might not even end up failing after all.
‘Fail, Fail Hard. Fail Better’ – Samuel Beckett
Challenge: You can do either one of two things: Number One – Look back at the things you’ve tried and the things you sucked at the most. Think about what you learned, what you took from it and how it has affected you positively to get to where you are now. Then use it in your current or next venture. Number Two – Go and try something, and completely screw it up, on purpose*. Post your worst piece of art; your blog post you think is terrible or even just bake a cake for your friend. What you learn in failure, is arguably more valuable than that which you learn in success. Even, if it is just how to handle it.
*Sky-diving, Bungee Jumping, Wrestling Bears and telling your wife that, in fact, her bum does look big, are all things exempt from purposely screwing up on.
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