“Wait, WHAT?!?!?! What does this guy mean, 'Failure is an option?' Uhhhhhh, listen here, bud. It’s 'failure is NOT an option' thank you very much.”
No, I did not mistype. Failure IS an option. Honestly, it's a quite good one. For as long as I can remember, it seems like we have been drilled with the age-old adage, “failure is not an option,” so much so that it can feel as if we have brought shame and dishonor to ourselves and those whom we love when we do fail. Yet motivational speakers, family members, loved ones, gurus, life coaches, and so on all preach in one way or another that you cannot fail if you want to be successful.
It has gotten to the point to where if we do fail, we feel bad, bleak, sad, dreary, and various other negative sensations, as if we did something wrong. When you fail you probably ask yourself, “Why me? What did I do to deserve this? I am but a mere wretch that should be cast away from society, for I do not belong to, nor do I deserve the comforts of this modern civilization, in which I cannot comprehend . . . ” Obviously not with such a melodramatic vigor, but you get the point.
However, it is neither bad nor the end of the world when you fail. In fact, you should embrace it and be happy for the opportunity life has given you. I am not sure if you are aware of a Mr. Thomas Edison. If you are not, go turn on a lamp in your house and thank him for it because he invented the lightbulb. However, he is known for so much more. In fact, there is one other thing that he is typically associated with. He had a way with words. One of his more famous lines is, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." He said this when referring to the painstaking task of inventing the lightbulb.
In a sense, Mr. Edison is technically showing that “failure is not an option” merely because he does not recognize it. Failure is but a seven letter word to him. Imagine how dark the world would be if he had just given up and beat himself up for not perfecting the light bulb on his first, second, or even 9,999th
try. I find this to be an amazing and freeing way to view life. “Oh no! You didn’t ace that job interview? You aren’t comprehending a subject? You missed the game winning catch? You performed terribly at your job?” I say the following with the utmost care for you: “SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP!!!! THOMAS EDISON CREATED CONTAINED FREAKIN' LIGHT IN 1879!!!! That’s without Google, a smartphone, cars, tablets, or anything else. He had NOTHING! but books, research, and candles.”
Do not get me wrong. I am not trying to be insensitive or put you down. I just want you to snap out of your “failure” rut. Just like Mr. Edison, you are not failing. You are merely finding the ways that aren’t working for you. Do you need to practice your interview skills? Do you need to study differently? Should you train harder? Do you need more hands-on training for your job? Whatever the case may be, NEVER, under ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, consider yourself as a failure or to be failing at something. You MUST get it in your head that it is a matter of time, patience, and determination that will take you out of the realm of “failure” and into the magical world of accomplishment and expertise.
Consider yourself as a machine. Now, let’s take a look at computers, another machine. Think back to the first computer that you can think of. It can be from last year or even 20 years ago. Either way, just compare the two. I can guarantee you that the older computer is a piece of junk compared to the new one. The new one is faster and has better features, fancy doo dads and doohickies, and so on. Overall, it is a better and more improved version of the old one. The company saw that the old one was “failing” for what the market wanted and took the opportunity to make it better. They didn’t just look at it and think, “Welp, that’s it. We had a good run while it lasted. Computers are failing so no need to go any further.”
Thinking of yourself in that light is exactly the way to go. Learn what the market wants, with the market being your future, and adapt yourself to becoming better and more proficient. See your flaws as room for improvement and not as “failing” tendencies. You know not to touch a stove when it is on because it’s hot and you probably learned that from touching a hot stove. You probably also know that if you have a poor diet and lack exercise, your legs will fall off and your lungs will explode if you try to run a 5k with no training.
The moral of this is never to feel bad for “failing.” It is what will make you successful. It is best to learn from your mistakes and use them to your advantage. Do not beat yourself up for “failing” at something that you tried. Instead, change your way of approaching it and try again. I want you to see "failure" as a seven lettered word too. Be your best you and conquer the world by learning what doesn’t work and mastering what does to make your own destiny a successful one.
-- Daniel Pall
Daniel is a master's student in the Department of Agricultural Economics