This might seem an odd wisdom biscuit topic and I doubt you’ll ever see this spiritual-religious nugget on a bumper sticker. Go ahead and fail.
I’m not talking about the 77% Weekly kind of failure where you’re allowed to make 23% mistakes and still receive a passing grade.
I’m talking about failing – really going out and messing up big time. Major failure. Epic face-plant.
I write this because we forget about how important failure really is.
Failure is the only way to succeed. We learn from our mistakes and if we didn’t fail we might not learn. Trying again in the face of failure is how we grow.
The Clorox cleaning product Formula 409 was not perfected with the 408th formulation the chemists concocted. It only came about after 408 failures – or 408 ways “not” to make a great cleaner. The 409th formula was a success that occurred only because of many previously botched attempts.
I heard in my teaching training: unless you have tried 1000 times, keep trying. As a teacher, I implement this concept in my classroom – not for students, but for me. I must find 990+ ways of conveying information before I give up on kids who don’t seem able to learn.
Scientific discovery only pushes forward when it fails. Before Thomas Edison invented a light bulb that worked, he had to fail at least a few times, no? Imagine if he had quit trying after the first or second failure! We would all be living in darkness.
If failure does not occur, then progress does not happen.
Technology advances because of failures. Consider the following:
- Why did we create telephones? Because there was a failure of being able to communicate with people over long distances.
- Why did we create cell phones? Because being in touch with people wasn’t enough – we had a failure of being stationary when we talked.
- Why did we create fancy phones? Because having a mobile phone wasn’t enough – we wanted to check email, browse internet, sync our contacts, play games, and do a whole lot more.
It was only because there is a need – something unfulfilled, a lack, a failure – that these new technologies were created and evolved.
Failure is the only way to succeed.
Failure creates success in one’s spiritual-religious life too. People’s God beliefs are usually forwarded through crises of faith. It is only when the notion of a big-guy in the sky theology fails to make sense that people evolve in their notions of God.
Think about it: Have you felt closest to (the) God (of your understanding) when watching a sunset or around a crisis?
All crises, including failures of one’s current faith, can cause people to grow with depth and compassion. (I’m not encouraging you to seek out crises. But maybe at some level you can see that your crises – even truly horrible experiences – are chances to grow.)
If we can understand that a failure is a chance to get better and move forward – technologically, scientifically, or religiously – maybe it can take the sting out a little bit. With this mindset, maybe we can see that our suffering isn’t like torture – with no upside. Instead, we might be able to see our experience as a growth opportunity.
Accept failure. Maybe even embrace it.