Failure Is An Option

Too many times we hear, see, and read messages, attempting to reinforce that failure is not allowed. That failing at something marks you for life as less than. Nothing could be further than the truth.

Failure is not only an option but as we’ll discuss here on “Becoming Today” it is also inevitable. 

No human is perfect. No person is omnipotent. No matter how much they may believe it or desire for us to accept that they are.

You can not live life without making mistakes or screwing something up in one way or another. 

Anyone who preaches otherwise is either making a mistake (and proving the point of today’s conversation), or suffering from severe delusions that require our prayers and their need to seek assistance and guidance. 

Failing at a task or not reaching a goal in the predetermined time you intended does not define you as a failure. They are simply learning experiences, which if accepted as such can serve to bolster your confidence and reveal to you new ways, approaches, attitudes towards getting back on track and/or making necessary revisions.

Some of the greatest minds in modern history realized this.

As motivational czar Zig Ziglar noted, “Failure is an event, not a person. Yesterday ended last night”.

With that we now have this new day, with a fresh start to revitalize our ideas, revamp our approach and work again on the realization of  our desires.

“In my experience, each failure contains the seeds of your next success — if you are willing to learn from it”. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen

We all will fail at some point in our life. These are learning experiences so we can do better next time. As long as you choose to accept them that way. If you opt to embrace defeat, then you are more than likely to repeat the same mistakes again. And sometimes again and again until you decide to take a different approach. 

Albert Einstein noted, “I think and think for months and years. Ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false. The hundredth time I am right”.

His statement is testimony to the fact that failure is inevitable.  Though it does not have to be a bad thing. Failure can be a powerful motivator. 

It pushes us to keep on trying and do better. It may even show us just how close we are to success. 

That is certainly how Thomas Edison viewed it. No stranger to multiple attempts on his nearly 1,100 inventions, he stated, “If we all did the things we are really capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.”

Further noting, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up”. Plus, “We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work”.

He in his lifetime also overcame others’ repeated attempts to dissuade him. Teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” In addition he was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-productive.”

“Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.”   

– Thomas Edison

Edison over the years extolled on the virtues of taking chances and developing ideas many  as times including:

“Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.”

“When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this – you haven’t.”

Beliefs he was not afraid to defend as when he admitted to reporters it took more than a few attempts to develop the first working light bulb, he responded to their attempts to label his work as a series of failures by boldly declaring, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Furthermore it’s not just in recent eras that the idea of failure as a motivator. The Bible contains many examples.  

“Jeremiah, say this to the people of Judah: This is what the Lord says: You know if a man falls down, he gets up again. And if a man goes the wrong way, he turns around and comes back.”  – Jeremiah 8:4

“The righteous may fall seven times but still get up, but the wicked will stumble into trouble.” – Proverbs 24:16 

Many Biblical leaders suffered setbacks, but refused to dwell on them. Instead they learned from their mistakes determined to keep moving forward. They show that when you fail you get up and you try again, eventually you will get it right.

“Like a dog that returns to its vomit, a fool does the same foolish things again and again.” – Proverbs 26:11 

“It was good for me to be afflicted so that I could learn Your statutes.” – Psalm 119:71 

“Trust the Lord with all your heart, and don’t depend on your own understanding. Remember the Lord in all you do, and he will give you success.” – Proverbs 3:5-6 

This is something the Lord has prepared us for:

2 Timothy 1:7 – “The Spirit God gave us does not make us afraid. His Spirit is a source of power and love and self-control.”

Isaiah 41:10 – “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

These verses all exhibit attributes that many of today’s leaders and innovators have adopted to help fuel their individual and in some cases our collective success:

“Failure and invention are inseparable twins.” Jeff Bezos

“I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” Michael Jordan

“In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” Mark Zuckerberg

“If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.” Elon Musk

You will fail. I have failed and we will again. The key here is that we try and try again. 

Henry Ford failed and went broke five times before he succeeded. Yet he had the strength to enlighten us by saying, “Failure provides the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently” .

Winston Churchill was far from an overnight success. He repeated a grade during elementary school and later not once, but twice failed the entrance exam to the Royal Military Academy.

He lost in his first attempt to serve in Parliament.and did not become Prime Minister until the age of 62. He wrote, “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never, Never, Never, Never give up”.

Further giving us hope inspiration and the realization that when we fail we are in good company:

Sigmund Freud was booed from the podium when he first presented his ideas to the scientific community of Europe. He didn’t run away in shame. Instead he returned to his office and kept on writing.

Albert Einstein was unable to speak until he was 4-years-old. His parents believed he was “sub-normal,” and a teacher described him as “mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in foolish dreams.”

Plus Abraham Lincoln’s younger days were full of trial, error and learning how to overcome failure as well as self-doubt. He went to war as a captain and returned as a private.

Then he was a failure as a businessman. As a lawyer he was considered too impractical and temperamental to be a success.

He then decided to get involved in politics. Suffering defeat in his first try for the legislature, lost in his first attempt to be nominated for congress, was turned down when he applied to be commissioner of the General Land Office, defeated in the senatorial election of 1854, failed in his efforts for the vice-presidency in 1856, and also lost in the senatorial election of 1858.

Around that time, Honest Abe wrote to a friend, saying,  “I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth”.

Two years later he was the first Republican ever elected President of the United States and helped heal the wounds of a divided nation. Without Lincoln realizing failure was an option none of us might be where we are today; which is Becoming who and what we always were intended to be.

Keep on trying. Never give up. Do not lose hope and never dwell on failure or mistakes. Forgive yourself and redirect your momentum forward and upward. That is the essence of our shared journey here on “Becoming Today”. 


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