Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Why It’s Important to Be Able to Fail

“If you are not failing now and again, it’s a sign you’re playing it safe.”
Woody Allen 

For most of us, failure is something to avoid. Why? It makes us look bad. In some cases, we believe it makes us look incompetent.

Yet, when we go to the gym and lift weights, it is common to
push ourselves to the point of failure. In fact, it shows a sign of strength and power to attempt one more repetition even though your muscles are exhausted. In addition, when lifting weights, if we attempt one more, we are encouraged by others to do so. If we fail at the final repetition, we are still told that that was the most important repetition of the entire set. While exhausted from our failed attempt, we are empowered. This method of exercising instills confidence and increases physical strength. 

To accentuate the point, those who avoid pushing to the point of failure are seen as less powerful. They can be perceived as one who is unwilling to push themselves to build strength. Furthermore, they miss the opportunity to see how far they can go. While those who push to failure, test themselves with the intention of being a little stronger next time.

However, in our personal and professional lives, playing it safe is seen as normal or even smart. We are often inclined to avoid pushing the apple cart over. In the worst case, we convince ourselves as well as friends that it’s impossible to take the first or next step. We even have sayings like, it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

If we use the analogy of lifting weights with life, we could see that failure can be an opportunity to build character, new skills and competencies, expand our knowledge and ultimately become our new and improved selves. While logically it is easy to say this, the emotion of looking bad overrides logic. Yet, when lifting weights, no one ever perceives another as a failure when they are unable to do that last repetition.

Perhaps failure and looking bad are all in the individual’s mind. Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times before finding the right combination for a functional light bulb.  You too can reveal the hidden power you possess by pushing the envelope and making the effort even when it appears like failure is imminent. What you will learn about yourself and the situation will be invaluable.     

I urge you to instead avoid playing it safe and wisely push yourself beyond your known limits.

What do you think? I would love to hear your feedback. And I’m open to ideas. Or if you want to write me about a specific topic, let me know.

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