Failure is Your Only Option

patchWe are all familiar with the famous Gene Kranz (NASA flight director) quote from the movie Apollo 13, Failure is not an option.  I suppose when you are dealing with the prospects of getting three astronauts safely home from a crippled space capsule that is the case.  When thinking about your career, career choices, and your daily work, failure is not only AN option, but is your ONLY option if you want continued growth.

If you never fail, you probably are not adequately stretching your boundaries.  I am in the middle of a very good book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol Dweck, that deals with this concept. I will go deeper into the book in upcoming posts but there is one message that resonated with me; if you fear failure, you continually look to put yourself into situations that success is guaranteed.  When you do that, you are missing out on growth opportunities.

If you have a crippling fear of failure, you probably are staying smack dab in the middle of your comfort zone. If you have the mindset that you need to “knock it out of the park” every swing, you are much more apt to not swing rather than risk “failure”.  If you have the mindset that you need to “Go Big or Go Home” you are much more likely to just stay at home rather than risk “failure”.

In his book, The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin says,

“Your biggest failure is the thing you dreamed of contributing but didn’t find the guts to do.”

Even Vince Lombardi, who probably has more quotes regarding winning (even if most are inaccurate… “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”… actually he said “Winning isn’t everything, but the will to win is”) attributed to him than anyone else, had this to say about “failure”

“In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.”

The thing to remember is that failure (I failed) is an action and not an identity (I am a failure).  Failure is a learning opportunity.

Embrace failure… expand your boundaries… continue to grow… make great attempts… attempt and DO great things.

Jeff Floyd –

9 thoughts on “Failure is Your Only Option

  1. Hi Jeff
    Thanks for this post and your reminder to everyone about the distinction between failing and BEING a failure., As you may have noticed I’ve been reflecting on this topic lately myself as I’m about to step out of my comfort zone next month and take a one year contract in Japan. I am anticipating that although I’ll be trying, it is my first time in Japan and I will make mistakes, therefore I’ve set my goals to try my best and learn from each attempt I make.

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