What If I Fail?

There is only one thing that I hate more than failing, and that is failing twice. It happened to me. I took two driving tests one day after the other and FAILED, missed their 88% pass mark by a few percentage points. Twice.

From a very young age we are taught to reject failure, it is something to be avoided at all costs. During your school years, your teachers drilled it into you: you absolutely cannot fail. If you fail in school, you will fail in life, you cannot fail in life!

And many of us go through life haunted by the question, What if I fail? We live in fear of the consequences of failure, the shame of having to explain ourselves to people.

Here is the thing, failure is inevitable; ‘little’ failures like failing a driving test and significant ones that will have you questioning your purpose in life. Sometimes failure is your fault, other times it is someone else’s, and often it is just a weird combination of circumstances that you cannot explain.

So change your “… if I fail?” to “… when I fail” because if it has not happened yet, failure will happen to you! Given its inevitability, when failure happens we only have two choices: use it or lose it.

Using It.

Google has a secret lab (Google X) where they pay their people to identify a problem and find a crazy solution to it, all in the name of innovation and making the world a better place. The crazier your idea is the better, and even if your idea bombs horribly, you still get rewarded. Here is why:

“You must reward people for failing, [Teller] says, If not, they won’t take risks and make breakthroughs. If you don’t reward failure, people will hang on to a doomed idea for fear of the consequences.” [1]

Why does Google take this stance? Paradoxically, by rewarding failure they are actually encouraging excellence. Google is not just looking for good ideas, they want out of this world solutions. And they understand that this is only possible in an environment where the fear of failure is removed. The failures encountered are little steps in the path towards huge breakthrough.

Google gets it! What they are doing at Google X is using failure as an opportunity for learning because the truth is that failing will teach you more than winning ever will, if you let it.

Losing it.

Failing sucks! And the first thing that we are all tempted to do when we fail is to give up completely. Discouragement, frustration and disappointment have us in a chokehold. All the negative emotions can have you losing it, feeling stuck and crippled. Here is what Nick Vujicic, author of Life Without Limits has to say about that,

“It’s perfectly normal and probably healthy to go through stages of anger and sadness, but at some point we all have to say: “I’m still here. Do I want to spend the rest of my life in misery or do I rise above what has happened and pursue my dreams?”” [2]

This, from a guy who was born without arms and legs but is an international public speaker and author. What is your dream? An Oscar, a Pulitzer, a Nobel or Best Mom in the Galaxy award? If your dream does not make you ask What if I fail? then it is probably too small.

Make your dream ridiculous and when you fail, remember: it does not matter how many times you fail or fall, what matters is that you get back up again!

Your turn:

In what area in your life have you failed – personally, academically, professionally?

What have you learned from that experience? What would you do better? What did you do right?

I love hearing from you guys so please hit me up!

Honey love
Shula xoxo

Notes ::
[1] D Grossman “Secret lab ‘rewards failure”  available at: http://m.bbc.com/news/technology-25880738

[2] N Vujicic Life Without Limits: inspiration for living a ridiculously good life (2010) at 93.

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