“I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” – Thomas Edison
Failure has so many negative connotations that many will never see the opportunity that comes with failing. The only way failure can define us is if we give up. The one who falls and gets up is so much stronger than the one who never fell. Failure is not final. We learn from failure, not from success. Success is 99% failure. I could go on and on with quotes on failure but the point is; we can never truly learn without failing. As long as we don’t accept failure as final, success will grow from it.
Just look at this quote from Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest Basketball player ever:
It’s staggering to see his “failures” on the court but he will only ever be remembered for his successes.
I always find the idea of an ‘overnight success’ fascinating as this is very rarely the case:
My dad told me, ‘It takes fifteen years to be an overnight success’, and it took me seventeen and a half years. – Adrien Brody
Microsoft – Bill Gates founded Microsoft in 1975, to develop and sell BASIC interpreters for the Altair 8800. Six years later, he managed to land a contract with IBM to provide their IBM PC base operating system. Even still, it was another five years before Microsoft went public in 1986, making him an overnight success worth $350 million.
Apple – It took Steve Jobs two decades to become an overnight dot-com billionaire. Established in Cupertino, California in 1976, Apple really didn’t get on the map until the advent of the Macintosh in 1984, eight years later. Even then, it struggled through the 80’s and 90’s, until the advent of the iMac and consumer products.
All of these people adopt the philosophy of failure never being final and working on something they truly believe in.
Another interesting idea is that of abandoning perfection. Striving for perfection sometimes forces us to confront or change parts of us which make us who we are.
Perfect is the ideal defense mechanism. Perfect lets you stall, ask more questions, do more reviews, dumb it down, safe it up and generally avoid doing anything that might fail (or anything important).
But let’s be honest, not all of us will become superstars or overnight successes, in fact, only a small fraction of us will. However, we can be champions within our own right. Work for what you believe in, big or small. Push yourself through failures and create success. Try and leave work every day, proud of what you have achieved, leave nothing on the field!