The only true failure is to quit trying or quit learning, and even quitting can be remedied by starting again. I think that part of the reason we fear failure so much is that we think it means the end of our opportunities, when in reality, giving up out of fear is the only true defeat. We have two choices: we can either try and fail many times, and in doing so learn and grow a tremendous amount, or we can never try for fear of failure. To not try is to lose opportunities. Failing is just the learning process that we go through on our way to opportunities, and the lessons that we learn are often the very things we need to be successful in our opportunities. Failure that we intentionally learn from, rather than disqualifying us, can be the very thing need to ensure our future successes. As Henry Ford said, "The only true failure is the one from which you learn nothing."
Winston Churchill described success this way, "Success is stumbling from failure to failure, without loss of enthusiasm." Failure is not an end unless we make it one. It might be the end of a road, but it's not the end of the trip. We have to be willing to try, fail, and try again if we ever want to accomplish anything great. Failure is necessary for achievement because without it we are never forced to try new things, find new paths, and push the boundaries. Failure causes frustration, which is the fuel for new breakthroughs.
Frustration can be so powerful that some people put themselves in positions of "desirable difficulty" (Malcolm Gladwell, "Outliers") in order to be forced to innovate. For instance, someone might write a list that they need to concentrate on in as small of a font as possible because the strain to read the font will force them to concentrate. We don't have to go to this extreme to push our innovation skills, but we do need to start adjusting our minds to the idea that pressure, frustration, and failure are actually helping us find innovation, creativity, and success. As Zig Ziglar says, "It's not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts." Let yourself be tested, put yourself into the fire of experiences and failure, and see what gold emerges as you dance through the flames.
If you want to learn more about how to overcome failure and live a creative lifestyle come to our workshop this coming Saturday, May 30th, in the Charlotte area (tickets here). If you are not in Charlotte and are interested in having us do a workshop in your area sign up for our mailing list and we'll let you know when we're coming to your area.
Emily is a creative entrepreneur, born in the South, raised in Colorado, and loving life in Brooklyn, NY. As the co-founder of Bright Ideas she spends her time doing freelance photography, writing blog posts, drinking black coffee, experimentally cooking, laughing, playing minimalist puzzle games on her iphone, exploring NYC, and working a lot of odd jobs. You can follow Emily’s adventures on Instagram or Twitter, see what inspires her on Pinterest, check out her photography on Facebook, or read more of her posts here.