The F Word

No, not that one.  I’m talking about a different “f-word” – failure.  Our culture shies away from the failure label.  Some folks even refuse to use it, preferring euphemisms like “challenge” or “issue.”  There’s something even more powerful than pretending failure doesn’t exist.  That is embracing it as evidence of growth and a crucial pathway to success. 

After all, failure and success are two sides of the same coin.  You often must persevere past setbacks before you reach your goal.  Most high achievers will tell you they’ve failed plenty of times.  What set them apart is they didn’t let it stop them.

To take the sting out of this f-word, try looking at it head on – “That approach was a failure.”  “I failed at producing that result using that method.”  Big deal.  Now you know something you didn’t know before – namely one approach that doesn’t work.

There’s a story that when a reporter asked Thomas Edison how it felt to fail 10,000 times in trying to invent the light bulb, he replied, “I have successfully found 10,000 ways it will not work.”  But the question gave him a light bulb moment.  He realized that to succeed he was going to need to fail faster, so he hired assistants and got busy attempting even more approaches until he finally hit on the one the did the trick.

Maybe it’s time to reframe failure.  Instead of seeing it as a painful and embarrassing calamity, view it as an inevitable part of the success process and even cause for celebration.  Failure means you put something out there.  You tried, you learned and you probably got further than 80% of others.  That’s nothing to be ashamed of.  You might even set a goal to fail even bigger and faster, knowing that bigger success awaits you on the other side.

© 2011 Barbara Wayman, APR, BlueTree Media, all rights reserved

Barbara Wayman, APR, president of BlueTree Media, LLC, publishes The Stand Out Newsletter, an award-winning monthly ezine for people who want to know how to leverage the power of marketing and public relations. Get your free subscription today at