We Fail So That We May Succeed
The topic that I want to talk about this week is 'Failure'. A while back, I read an article in the December 2009 issue of Disc Jockey News entitled "Starting From Scratch" by Jeff Richards where failure was mentioned. In the article Richards states,
"You only fail when you set limits upon yourself. When you have doubts about your abilities, you fail."
I thought about this for a moment to determine whether this made sense. Do we always fail when we doubt our ability? Probably not but the article content of the article is to show how we can reduce our chances of failure if we remain confident in our ability to succeed. The way to stay confident is to not be afraid of failing at something.
Failure is nothing that should be feared. It's part of our developing process. I've been on many projects in the past where assessments were conducted after a project was completed. During these assessments, we evauated what worked and what didn't work. We didn't point fingers or lay blame on the weakest links. We fixed the issues and learned from our mistakes. This goes for every event for which my company and I perform. After an event, we talk about what went well, what didn't, and what we need to develop in order to avoid mistakes that we made. The same thing applies during tutoring sessions. For instance, while I'm working with students that are working math problems, I observe where they're making mistakes. I point out the mistake they made so that they've now pinpointed the cause of an incorrect answer. Afterward, when they get a similar problem they now know to avoid that same mistake and now have a better chance of solving the problem one hundred percent correct. These are examples of continuous improvement, which is a key principle in learning how to produce with quality.
If you don't believe me, ask the many successful people that failed over and over again until they were perfect at what they did. One day on the Staten Island Ferry, I was looking over the shoulder of someone reading a newspaper - the Wall Street Journal, I think. Anyway, a certain article caught my attention and I liked it so much I hand copied it to a scrap of paper. After so many years, I came across the scrap of paper which stated:
“You’ve failed many times, although you may not remember. You fell down the first time you tried to walk. You almost drowned the first time you tried to swim, didn’t you? Did you hit the ball the first time you swung the bat? Heavy hitters, the ones who hit the most home runs, also strike out a lot. R.H. Macy failed seven times before his store in New York caught on. English novelist John Creasy got 753 rejection slips before he published 564 books. Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times, but he also hit 714 home runs. Don’t worry about failure. Worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.”
Incidentally, I tried to Google the author of this passage but I had not luck. All I did find was a lot of bloggers that claimed this as their own. Only two blogs gave credit to an unknown source.
Anyway, can you believe how many times each person mentioned failed? Babe Ruth had how many strikeouts? I've come to realize how hard I was on A-Rod during the first few years with the Yankees until he finally through for them during the 2009 World Series. Maybe there's a proportional success to failure ratio but the key point of the passage is that you should not fear failure. Also keep in mind that this is not a ticket to be a "screw-up." Proper planning is also needed to avoid unnecessary failures. Just strive past them by learning from the mistakes made, keep trying and don't give up.