There is this common misconception in our society that failure is a bad thing, an ugly word, and something we definitely don’t want people viewing us as. But what if I told you that failure is actually good? It is essential for us as human beings to embrace failure. Failure helps us gain life experience, allows us to learn things about ourselves, and gives us ambition to strive for something better.
Most failures believe it or not are stepping stones to success, many businesses and organizations praise failure as a way of improving their company. In fact most employers seek out those with track records reflecting both failures and success says magazine Business Week. Guy Raz host and editorial director of TED Radio Hour says that many companies such as X, a company run by Google and Google itself are actually using this philosophy of chasing after failure. Research out of Stanford University stated that those who are at the top of their field are the ones who have failed the most. Someone who has been wrong multiple times and has essentially persevered and fixed their problems, has more of an advantage over someone who got it right the first time. I mean take a look at Albert Einstein, Walt Disney even- they both were denied multiple times before they became some of the most memorable faces in history. Thomas Edison was asked how it felt to fail 1,000 times before he invented the light bulb, instead of getting defensive he answered with; “I didn’t fail 1,000 times, the light bulb just took 1,000 steps.”
Failure not only gives us life experience, but also helps us discover things about ourselves that we wouldn’t have known prior to failing. Failing in fact, according to Cynthia Hass, author of the article Lessons on Success says that failure “Makes us stronger and more adaptable to many situations.” The author of Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error, Kathryn Schultz says “Understanding and accepting our failure leads to a happier lifestyle.” Knowing what makes you, you is vital to all of our individual journeys in life. Many people already know who they are and where they aspire to be. Although for example as a college student I was faced with many obstacles that challenged my perception of who I believed I was. I then started to wonder if the path I had chosen was the right one for me. Having changed my major 3 times I can say that accepting your failures in a particular route you’ve decided to take, always result in you ending up on the route you were meant to take, which has led me here on this website in font of all of you today doing something I love.
This brings me to the most important aspect of why embracing failure is important, without it we essentially wouldn’t achieve true satisfaction in our lifetime. Economist Tim Harford says “To be terrible with failure is either, to be so scared of it that we would never do anything interesting with our lives, or alternatively to be so terrified of admitting it that you continue with a disastrous course of action and you continue to fail because you keep telling yourself you’re not failing.” Our ego is our own worst enemy, no one wants to be known as a failure. This idea of us avoiding the fact that we are wrong is known as the god complex (Raz, TED Radio Hour). The fear of failure is so overpowering that we end up settling for mediocrity. Author of Celebrating Failure ,Ralph Heath states that “Those who are so afraid to fail never aim for success.” We all have that one friend who complains about how much they hate their job, and I’m sure you’ve wondered why don’t you just quit? The concept of failure clouds our judgment into thinking we can’t do something, or that we aren’t failing because if we were everyone would judge us so I’m going to keep digging my hole because I’m right and you’re wrong. We never truly understand our full potential until we fail thus helping us discover everything we are capable of. Co-Founder of X Astro Teller says that “Enthusiastic skepticism is not the enemy of boundless optimism, it is optimisms perfect partner because it unlocks the potential in every idea.” If you are playing it safe with hopes of avoiding failure you’re not only depriving yourself from happiness but you are failing, because you’re failing to try. Without the possibility of failure humanity would lack goals, ambition, and the whole concept of reaching the finish line is diminished.
Our society is powered and shaped by some of the biggest companies, and the ideas of many legends, who are where they are today because they have embraced their failures. By failing you gain life skills, rediscover yourself, and help you achieve an ambitious mindset. So go ahead take that salsa class you’ve always wanted to take, invest in stock, and take risks because failure is just a word that got a bad rep. That white picket fence house in a nice suburban neighborhood isn’t going to just appear, you have to want it, and accept the fact that you may fall on your face a couple times along the way. I mean imagine if Walt Disney just gave up after being denied so many times, the happiest place on earth would literally be non existent. As if that isn’t bad enough what if Steve Jobs was like “Nah I’m good off the ipod.” The little screen you’re reading this off of would probably be anything other than “Team iPhone.” Or here’s one what if Thomas Edison gave up on the 999th time trying to invent the light bulb, who knows where our technology today would be. My point is don’t give up! So cliche but seriously, even if you don’t reach success you still learned a little something about your strengths and weaknesses. Once you have become your own best friend you can conquer almost anything, and know what things not to waste your time with. Author Kathryn Schultz says “the capacity to error is crucial to human cognition.”
Failure is just a part of life, if you don’t fail or allow yourself to fail, then you’re not living.