Only failures screw up.
If you were good at it, you’d get it right the first time.
It will be so embarrassing to not do this right in front of my peers.
This list could go on forever, but the point is that our culture teaches us that failing is bad. It teaches us that smart, successful people always do things right. Therefore, most people have instilled in them a crippling sense of fear that they will perform their task wrong. That typically means one of two things happen. Either the fear of failure cripples one into inactivity and nothing productive happens, or instead of stepping out on a limb to try something great the subject of this fear just puts out mediocre work that he knows will be “good enough”.
This is all wrong. Absolutely, totally, simply wrong. We have to fail! It’s part of who we are. If we aren’t failing, we aren’t living. Let’s take a look at some of the people who have helped to shape the world as we know it. People who also had their own fair share of screw-ups.
- Henry Ford is a figurehead in the automobile industry. Most people don’t know his early businesses failed and left him broke five times before he founded the Ford Motor Company.
- Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and failed in his first business attempt with a company called Traf-O-Data. Never heard of it? Neither have most people, but without the lessons learned from that failed business venture we may not have Microsoft today.
- Abraham Lincoln had his fair share of failings before finding his place. He went into the army as a captain and returned as a private (most people don’t go backward!) He started numerous businesses that never get off the ground and lost several of the first public elections he was in.
- Theodor Giesel, better known as Dr. Seuss was rejected by 27 different publishers in trying to publish his first book, To Think that I Saw It on Mulberry Street.
- Thomas Edison was told by his schoolteachers that he was “too stupid to learn anything”. He exemplified not being afraid of failure as he ignored their disbelief in him and invented the light bulb. He only had to screw up about a thousand times first.
What kind of person will you choose to be? Will you be paralyzed by fear? Will you just follow the crowd to do what’s “good enough” and let mediocrity be your motto? Or will you make the deliberate choice to put yourself out there and to fall flat on your face? And then do it again, and again, and again, as long as it’s necessary to rise to the top and be your true self.
If you keep messing up you’re probably doing something right. Don’t get down on yourself and don’t let the weight of the world convince you to settle for anything less than what you’re capable of attaining. As C.S Lewis once said, “failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” Let your failures be your finger posts and not your fetters that you may go on to achieve greatness!