Are you bound to fail?
Probably not. However, current rhetoric would lead one to believe that slow train is coming. It’s just stopping at every station before it gets to yours.
Failure has become a more popular topic over the past few years than it ever has been. It’s got its own Twitter hashtag. It’s been the headline of numerous blogs. It lurks in every social media corner. In nearly every venue, somebody is offering advice about why failure can make you stronger and how to manage when it happens.
In fact, I recently saw a tweet that said, “If you haven’t failed at least 5x today, you haven’t tried enough new things.”
I would submit that one who fails five times each day probably wouldn’t pass a field sobriety test.
Let’s take a closer look at who’s chatting about failure. Many times it’s the once-relevant trying to remain relevant. Among those are the former stars of the American Speakers Bureau, those who we paid plenty to see and hear them preach from their own books about setting goals, getting motivated, and managing time. Now, there’s nothing new under the sun and they’ve run out of material, so it’s time to hop on the failure wagon train.
It’s gotten so out of hand, one might feel like a failure if he or she doesn’t fail.
All of us to some degree live lives of quiet intimidation—in the big things, and especially the little things. The prophets of disaster who would have us believe that failure is inevitable should be incarcerated. Or at least duct taped and locked in a closet in an abandoned asbestos-ridden office complex.
The late great Earl Nightingale often said, “You become what you think about.” Solomon, the son of David wrote, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” In the classic movie The Phantom Tollbooth, King Azaz the Unabridged said, “Words are very powerful things.”
If you believe and profess you must experience failure as a part of building and growing a business or a career, you are going to do things that will lead to losing. Everything we create begins with a thought, and failure is not exempt from that list.
I am not suggesting that one can think positively and parrot empty affirmations and avoid failure. I just truly believe that subscribing to today’s failure fad is setting oneself up for trouble. Moreover, he who teaches a child she must fail is twice a son of perdition than he who would cause his own demise.
There are two extreme sides of the failure spectrum. One of course says, “Failure is inevitable!” Another says, “Failure is impossible!” I think Huxley would tell us neither is right nor wrong. It depends on the person, really. Some people are actually lucky. Some learn from other’s mistakes. Some just work hard, do all the right things and succeed.
There was a time when business leaders, true entrepreneurs, and those with career goals shared a common enthusiasm. Those who were willing to dream heroic dreams and act upon them believed and professed that they would succeed often did.
When I was a little boy, we used to sing a song that said, “Be careful little eyes what you see…be careful little ears what you hear…”
It is possible to make a million mistakes and not fail. It’s possible to sail across the ocean, arrive weather torn, and yet reach your destination. Anything is possible, because all things are possible.
It is also possible to succeed without failing five times a day, or maybe even never. I encourage you not to subscribe to the lure of following a manufactured belief system that will do nothing more than short-circuit your dreams.
Keep your eyes, ears, and your mind on what wish to achieve, not what others think might happen.
And, as I tell my little girl when she’s scared by a midnight storm, “every little thing will be all right.”
This article was published by Ken Kilpatrick in the February edition of Lehigh Valley Business.