Just as curiosity (and a little naivety) drives children to explore, fear of failure propels adults to take the safer routes.
This is an unfortunate change.
While some amount of caution is definitely beneficial, this unrealistic goal of constant success either results in overreaction to failure or resignation to mediocrity.
As the saying goes, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Risk, properly planned and managed, is key to success.
If our founding fathers had not taken the tremendous risk of declaring independence from Great Britain, we could quite possibly still be living in the United Kingdom. When those brave men signed the Declaration of Independence, they risked their very lives in an effort to secure freedom for their children.
Although failure is a part of life, we can minimize the downsides by failing small.
Rather than risking everything on one project or one attempt, think through a backup plan. Most people think of Apple as the revolutionary company that invented the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. What they may not realize is that these amazing successes were preceded by a number of failures. Everyone wants an iPad, but how many people still use Apple’s Newton. Released in 1993, the Apple Newton was the world’s first PDA, but it lost the initial battle to the less expensive Palm Pilot.
Because they did not bet everything on the Newton, Apple was able to eventually launch their highly successful iOS devices over a decade later.
When a project is moving slowly or suffers a temporary regress, it can be tempting to give up entirely and move on to something else.
Throughout history, nearly all of the most successful people suffered a number of setbacks before finally triumphing. Thomas Edision failed at least one thousand times before inventing the lightbulb. Albert Einstein was expelled from school before discovering the theory of relativity. R. H. Macy failed seven times before his New York store caught on.
Do not let a little resistance force you to give up entirely.
Just as persistence is crucial, wisdom must also come into consideration. Rather than putting your head down and pushing forward, evaluate your options.
If Apple had continued pushing the Newton, they would never have launched the iPod. If Henry Ford had continued struggling to sell the high priced but low quality cars in his Detroit Automobile Company, he would never have invented the breakthrough Model T after cofounding the Ford Motor Company.
In the words of Davy Crockett, “Make sure you’re right, then go ahead.”
Ultimately, Winston Churchill gave the best advice for triumphing through failure: Never give up.
So long as you keep recovering, it doesn’t matter how many times you fall. Whatever happens, keep taking calculated risks and eventual success is almost guaranteed.
How have you triumphed through failure? I’m a Christian young man working on my BSBA in Accounting and writing blog posts in my spare time. I enjoy learning how to do things faster and better… whether through new keyboard shortcuts, world record holding shoelace knots, or motion study.