Failure is an Option

tools of the tradeWe hear this often enough, ‘Failure is Not an Option’. This was probably best known in the Apollo 13 movie. Interesting enough, it was never a phrase said during such time, but it was the basic premise.

We live in a culture where the idea of failure is an expression of something bad. Truth be told, it is something bad. However, if there is one thing video games has taught us, that failure is an opportunity to learn. In fact, the more times we fail, the closer we are to finding the solution. As the saying goes:

“When life hands you lemons, you get back on the horse, and throw glass at the rolling stone, while skinning the cat.”

One of the first things taught in marketing a book is how you measure success. Now if you are often failing, it may be that your definition of success is set too high. Or that you are pursuing the wrong thing. When you fail, it is an opportunity to really understand why you failed. Failure is a tool. Failure helps us on our path to success. A line taken out of the original movie script for the Matrix (not in film) helps sums it up:

MORPHEUS: If you never know failure, how can you know success?


Perhaps you are on the right path and your goals are exactly as they need to be. There is by no means a guarantee you will succeed. That’s the tough part about taking a risk, that no matter how many right steps you take, no matter how hard you work… you can still fail.

Wow, this sounds depressing… how is this a tool? Failure can help us understand things that we many not have known before. Maybe a step we took was completely wrong and we can see how to correct it. Perhaps the step was right, but in failure, we can see an even better solution. Or that there are a lot of ways to do it and failure can help us eliminate some unnecessary steps.

Another thing can happen from failure. Methodology. When I was in college working on computers, my labs often failed on me. My Operating System failed to install, so I had to redo it. Why it failed… just did. Having to do it again, gave me more appreciation for the steps that needed to be taken. Often times, we learn how something works when it doesn’t work the way it is suppose to. We have to troubleshoot until we find the answer, and learning the answer can lead us to a greater understanding to the methodology of how something works.

On March 7th, I attempted to do a rather unique event with Google+. This was part of my #Hope4Cytherea event. The event was to give a rape victim a message of hope, by bringing viewers on one-by-one. Part of the event was to be able to speak to Mercedes Carrera; a brilliant woman and porn star. However, the event failed.

Many things about the event failed, even before it started. Press release got out late, official statement was delayed. Getting people to connect to the show was problematic. Essentially, everything that could go wrong, did. Even in my failure, I manage to salvage the experience and many viewers still had a good time.

(you can watch video here)

In this, I learned more how Google+ Hangouts work. I also saw how not to do things, which led to my failure, and found another solution. This time, I will make use of twitter to bring people on the the live hangout. My failure showed me what not to do, and gave me appreciation for how Hangouts work. Now with the new event set for the 21st of March, I have more knowledge to will lead to a greater chance of success.

If you want to succeed, you must accept that failure will be part of the journey. While you don’t set out to fail, you don’t deny yourself the opportunity that failure brings. You don’t hide from failure. You embrace it, and use it as a means to gain new knowledge, or reinforce knowledge. Failure can help lead you to future success. Because the danger of ignoring failure, is repeating failure again; making the same mistakes again.

Each moment of success and failure is a moment of reflection, to understand how to do things and how to get better. How to take something small and make it bigger and better. No matter what you do in life, failure is going to be a companion. Especially as a writer, whether it is a rejection letter or a bad review, that experience will strengthen you as a writer and help you do even greater things. Don’t run from it, embrace it.

If you set for yourself that you can never fail, then you will forever fail because you refuse to learn from the experience. If you allow yourself to fail, then you give yourself a chance to succeed.

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One comment

  1. Thanks for this post – it’s made me feel better today, just when I needed it!

    As one of those people who learns stuff by doing it for myself rather than just absorbing facts and going “Okay, yeah, got that” (there is a technical term for it but I can’t for the life of me remember what it is now) most of what I’ve learned in life has been via failure embracing me like an over-affectionate auntie at least the first time or two. I’ve learned to appreciate it over the years (albeit AFTER the event rather than during.) She’s still a terrible kisser though πŸ˜‰

    Good luck with the next event, which I’m sure will meet your expectations much better (I’m saying that because I’m sure the people who attended the previous event wouldn’t be as hard on you about what went wrong as you’ve been on yourself. Us writers can set very high standards for ourselves sometimes. πŸ™‚ )

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