I recently heard that the President of Pixar has said, “Failure is the inevitable result of trying something new.”
Wow, that statement is so true.
Most of us fear failure. We don’t want to fail. Often, we don’t take risks. Instead, we stay in our cozy comfort zone to avoid failure.
Here is my question: How do you define failure?
- Is failure falling short of your own goals for your project or book?
- Is failure losing money on a project or book?
- Is failure only doing part of a project (or one or two books in a longer series) before being forced to quit due to lack of consumer interest or finances?
- Is failure poor reviews of your book?
Often, we are afraid of failure, but we don’t take the time to define what failing would look like. We have an idea of what success would look like, and so anything that falls short of our idea of success we end up calling failure.
But, is not reaching your own or society’s idea of success truly a failure? After all, isn’t simply writing a book or publishing a book a success of its own? If we learn something from our project or book, even if it doesn’t perform as well as we expect or desire, isn’t that also a form of success?
The book Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure by Tim Harford seems to imply that all success starts with failure. I don’t believe that this premise is true. However, I do believe that failure can lead to future successes if we let it.
Failure is not just “lack of success”. Failure is also a great teacher. When we don’t reach the success we want (what we call failing), we can take the lessons we learn and use them to change our course.
This, of course. is the point in Tim Harford’s book. We must adapt. Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure puts forth three essential steps for successful adapting:
- Try new things with the knowledge that some will fail.
- Make failure survivable since some of the attempts will surely fail.
- Make sure you know when you have failed.
Again, defining failure as well as success is important when you embark on a new project.
The old adage “Nothing ventured, Nothing gained” still holds true. If we sit in our comfort zones, we won’t fail, but we also won’t experience success.
If fear of failure is holding you back, maybe it’s time to define what failure would be. After all, following what we feel God is calling us to do is, in and of itself, a success.
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