Failure is the ONLY Option

One of my all-time favorite movies is “Apollo 13.” I am inspired by the courage and decision-making used by the team on the ground as well as the astronauts stuck in space. And, I find it truly inspiring when Ed Harris (playing Flight Director Gene Krantz) looks at his team and says, “We’ve never lost an American in space, we’re sure as hell not going to lose one on my watch! Failure is not an option.” In most organizations, however, adversity is not life-threatening. So I say we should embrace failure.

Failure represents a great opportunity to learn and to succeed. Noted psychology professor and author, Tal Ben-Shahar, writes, “…while failure does not guarantee success, the absence of failure will almost always guarantee the absence of success.” As soon as you can learn that failure is positively linked to success, you are much more likely to grow, learn, and be successful.

If you truly want to learn and improve, embrace at least some amount of risk in your work. Do you think that the most successfulpeople have not failed? In fact, most point to failure as motivation, learning, and opportunity all rolled into one.

And, if you don’t believe me, see what some of the most successful people in history have learned from failure.

  • “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm” – Winston Churchill
  • “I have not failed. I have just found ten thousand ways that won’t work” – Thomas Edison
  • “I’ve missed more than nine-thousand shots in my career. I’ve lost almost three hundred games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And, that is why I succeed.” Michael Jordan
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