On Failure

It’s tough to fail, huh? It sucks knowing you’ve put your heart & soul into something, only to see it crumble to nothing.

The heaviness in your stomach, the stinging in your brain, the itch you can’t quite scratch. They’re all physical reminders of the horrible failure. The time wasted. The regret that you’ll never see what you were doing come to fruition.

Yup, it sucks ass.

But you know what? I don’t mind. I don’t mind failing. In fact, I quite look forward to it.

I look forward to it because it’s a chance to learn and grow. To evolve and better myself. Making a mistake means I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and took a risk. One can’t grow if one doesn’t do that.

I’ve always been the kind of person who seeks to improve myself. One of the ways to do so is to go beyond my comfort zone.

In a previous dot-com for which I worked, we often set stretch goals. These were goals that were a bit beyond our reach. Beyond our comfort zones. Each time we satisfied one of those goals, we knew we had achieved something significant. It was a great application of basic psychology. Too bad that dot-com dot-bombed. Maybe the executive team’s stretch goal should have been, “Build a company that won’t bomb.” Ha! I kid, I kid.

My colleagues have all gone on to successful careers. They all learned from their stretch goals and from that company’s failure.

That’s the key with being comfortable with failure. Learning from previous mistakes. Accepting the negative feelings of failure and reframing the experience as a learning opportunity.

Experience is a harsh, yet effective teacher. She will beat you over and over again until you learn. If you don’t, the beatings will go on. Her motto is: “The beatings will continue until wisdom improves.”

So you see, each time I fail, it’s been because I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone in an attempt to better myself. And when I fail, it’s really a success. It means I’ve learned a lesson. The sting of each failure will remain with me forever, stronger than the insight of success will.

Author: Mike Lee

An idealistic realist, humanistic technologist & constant student.

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