“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” -Winston Churchill
Just the other morning I was driving to work and listening to The Bert Show on Q100. The Bert Show is widely known for unique radio content and general silliness. Their tagline is “Real. Funny.” which speaks for itself. However, on this particular morning, they were talking about failure. One of the hosts, Kristin, stated that instead of asking what she did at school every day, her father would ask what she failed at. Once she gave the answer, he proceeded to give her a high five. She noted that this little tradition made her excited to take the risks that may have led to great failure or great success.
The thing about failure is that it can be devastating, especially when it is viewed the way most of us look at it. Everyone has heard that, in order to be successful, you must fail. But it seems like people these days, especially here in the ultra-competitive market of the Unites States, we must take failure and rest with it like a collectible rather than moving forward. That is why failing forward is important to discuss.
In the beginning of our fragile lives, we take lots of risks. When we learn to walk, we fall. When we learn to eat, we make a mess. When we start picking out our own clothes, we mismatch. At what point in our lives do we choose to stop trying in order to prevent failure? Surely every person has a story in their pre-adolescence when they felt the detriment of failure sit upon their shoulders — from a missed goal in soccer, a sprained wrist or your first bad grade. Soon after, you were eating ice cream with your parents, talking about the newest toy and dreaming of your next birthday (or something like that —you get the picture). That resilience and determination for happiness is what makes children some of the best and most pure people on the planet (except when they are coloring on the walls, shoving things in the toilet, etc).
The thing about failure is that it is usually a blessing in disguise. Failure can be a catalyst for change, a lesson to be learned or a step in the right direction. When one door closes, another one opens. Most of the time, if you are willing to take the risk, the new door has more success and happiness to offer. Of course, that is, if you make it that way. In the end, you are the one who decides whether or not to let failure knock you down or to get back up and continue on with the “two steps forward, one step back” tango that life has to offer.