This is going to be a quick little post today because I am on my way out the door to fail. Fail? You may be wondering if I have lost my mind, after all, we are taught that failing is bad. Gene Kranz, flight director with NASA, is credited with saying “Failure is not an option” when speaking about the events during the Apollo 13 crisis. We are thankful that during that life or death situation, the team at Mission Control in Houston held on to that belief and attitude. But what does it say for normal people in normal situations?
I have another quote for you to consider: “The formula for success is quite simple: double your rate of failure.” This life philosophy was held by Thomas J. Watson, Sr. who was Chairman and CEO of IBM from 1914 to 1956. He was a leading self-made industrialist and he was one of the richest men of his time. At the time of his death he was hailed as the world’s greatest salesman. But it wasn’t always this way. During his early career he was a teacher, a traveling piano salesman, and he was fired from his next job in sewing machine sales when he had a little too much to drink at the end of the day and someone stole his sewing machine samples-horse, buggy and all!
We are not taught to go out and double our rate of failure. We are taught to avoid it at all costs. But what do we do when the inevitable failure comes around? We had better be prepared because failure will show up, that is a guarantee. It’s how we handle failure that defines our character and our success in life. We can choose to hide our heads and not even try because we fear failure so much. Or we can embrace the failure, knowing that each time we stumble we are that much closer to our goals.
We can choose to stand beside the likes of Thomas Edison, who said that while inventing the electric light bulb, he found 10,000 ways that didn’t work, and Abraham Lincoln, who lost more elections than he won, and Babe Ruth, who led the league in strike outs, and we can welcome the failures that come in our lives. We can welcome them, and know that we are just that much closer to our own success.
So today, I am on my way out the door to fail my way forward. Here’s to success for all of us, no matter how you define that in your own life.