Do Not Fear Failure

Tomasz Stasiuk / Foter / CC BY-SA


It starts like the first twinges in the stomach when you know you are going to be sick. Not just pop some pills and go to work sick, but running to the bathroom can’t keep anything down sick.

It’s not an option, you say. Okay, you grant me that it’s an option, but it’s the option that comes from giving up, you say. Wait, I say. What about the times you try your hardest, you put yourself into the fight, you get beat up, and you lose… Is that failure?

You see, you can try and fail. People do it all the time. One partner in a relationship can try and try to make it work, but if both people are not invested, all of that trying will not result in success. You may look into the eyes of your baby, read to him, go to all of his basketball games, but if he is swayed by that one wrong friend, he may end up on a self-destructive path, one for which you may feel responsible. You may have a chance at the job of your dreams, only to have your efforts crushed by a vindictive boss and the betrayal of presumably trustworthy coworkers.

Failure is a bitter pill, a large, hard-to-swallow, pill. It can leave you feeling helpless. Or angry. Or despondent.

Which brings me to a favorite quote of mine.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Teddy Roosevelt

Isn’t a lot of the fear of failure tied up in what others will think of us? After all, so much of life is trying, failing, then trying again and again until we succeed. Walking. Talking. Learning a new language. Learning a sport. If our parents had made fun of us instead of encouraging us to keep trying, they would have created little humans who were anxious and apprehensive, maybe even neurotic. Instead, they realized that we were trying, that sometimes there would be flops, and that eventually we would get it. What if we approached each other the same way? Give people room to fail. Provide a safety net so the failure is not destructive. Wouldn’t our society be stronger, more cohesive?

Am I afraid of failing? Sure. Am I going to let it hold me back? Never. Life is for living, for learning, and for growing, and it’s too short to worry about failing.

In response to the Daily Post’s writing prompt,  “Must Not Fail.” What is the one thing at which you are the most afraid of failing?

I”m also using this for my Writing 101 day 7 assignment, Hook ’em with a quote. (Yes, I’m a little behind, and yes, I know it’s not at the beginning. But I set it as my excerpt. I’m counting it.)