“One who fears failure limits his activities. Failure is only the opportunity to more intelligently begin again.” – Henry Ford, American industrialist, founder of Ford Motor Company and founder of the modern assembly lines used in mass production of vehicles (1864-1947)
When the most awful thing happens and it’s considered a failure, the feeling is like a punch in the gut. There’s no getting around the physical as well as emotional turmoil you feel. How can you not be disappointed and discouraged over failure to achieve what you set out so diligently to accomplish? In truth, however, many brilliant discoveries and even larger or more substantial outcomes have followed failure. Without countless failures, Thomas Edison would never have invented the light bulb. If intrepid climbers gave up, the summit would never have been reached on Mount Everest.
Without perseverance, diligence and courage in the face of fear, none of our greatest accomplishments would see the light of day. We make mistakes, but we learn from them. It is to our benefit to try to determine what we did that we could do better or figure or figure out where we went off track. That’s so we profit from the knowledge we’ve gained the next time we try that or something similar.
If all knowledge is cumulative, we should find ourselves becoming wiser and more able to interpret that knowledge to serve our goals. Making it halfway to the outcome we seek is still progress, albeit not the one we were after. Think of the point of discovery when something in the failure we just experience resonates inside. An idea bubbles up. We see, perhaps, a different approach we can take. Or we come to the educated conclusion that there’s a different goal that is even more worth pursuing and we alter our course to take advantage of this breakthrough.
This is applying our intelligence to not only craft our next steps, but also to make them more educated and more likely to succeed. The fact that we may go through this process multiple times before reaching a successful outcome doesn’t detract from the experience. It only makes it richer and ultimately more rewarding.
Still, it can seem like goal attainment is a long way off, which may lead to disheartenment and discouragement. At times when the goal seems to be slipping away or appears to be completely unattainable, take comfort in what we have already learned and make use of it for current and future plans of action. It’s not time and effort wasted, but time and effort well spent.