Failure can feel awful.
So awful that it’s easy to be paralyzed by fear of failure, so that any new venture, undertaking, or adventure is off limits unless it’s almost 100% safe.
What would life be like if we could the see beauty in failure instead of the terror of it? How can we do that?
How can failure be a beautiful thing?
We learn in Biology 101 that one of the signs of life is growth, and one of the signs of growth is change. If you’re not changing, you’re now growing.
Failure means you’ve tried learning or doing something new and different, even if success is not guaranteed.
But it’s scary! I don’t want to fail!
Thomas Edison once said, “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
In the movie Edison, The Man, there’s a pivotal scene in the story. Edison is close to giving up on his pursuit of creating the electric light bulb. He’s discouraged and worn out from years of finding “ways that won’t work”. He’s tired of fighting all the forces against him. Then something happens to set him back on course.
He has a dream that reminds him of why he started and wakes up renewed and determined to continue, no matter what.
Failure’s a great teacher.
It takes time and effort to figure things out. If we take Thomas Edison’s approach, discovering a way that won’t work is still a discovery. There’s no failure. What you’ve tried hasn’t worked? Try something else. Tweak a little here and there. Make adjustments.
What could we do if we were more like Edison and not give up when what we’ve tried doesn’t work?
It’s a pretty big question.
What would the world be like if we were taught to look at failure as a beautiful thing instead of a source of shame?
The founder of Spanx, Sara Blakely, says dinner conversations with her father centered around failure. He wanted to know what she had tried and failed.
In an interview with CNBC last year, she talked about how those conversations helped her: “The gift he was giving me is that failure is (when you are) not trying versus the outcome. It’s really allowed me to be much freer in trying things and spreading my wings in life.”
She had her share of ways that didn’t work and people telling her no. She kept at it. Spanx made her the first woman self-made billionaire ever.
The beauty of failure
Failure means you’re trying – you have a dream, a desire. It means you’re working toward a goal.
When you look at it that way, failure’s a beautiful thing.
What will you fail at today?