3 min read

The Importance of Failure: The Key to Success

You've probably heard that failure is a great teacher. But why is it so important to learn from our mistakes? And how can you use this insight to achieve success?
The Importance of Failure: The Key to Success

I've been listening for Jocko's Audiobook and he states that failure should be avoided at all costs.  In combat zones, you don't want to lose your brothers in arms and a simple mistake can have a detrimental effect on the overall mission.  Jocko's Advice was to never lose or fail" and  "You must do everything in your power not to fail".  But is this sound advice? He does go against the grain a little.

It has become popular to talk about failure in work culture and to embrace experimentation in the workplace. There is a number of buzzwords being banded around "Innovation" " Creativity" and the Mother of all... "Experimentation" to glorify failure for big tech giants.

The vast majority of us don't work for Google or Apple, so we are stuck with old school organisations and the old school of management. Worse still,  These buzzwords are still used but they are just words used to pacify the majority of employees into obedience.

It is not surprising because we have been systematically taught that failure was bad... all through the conveyer belt of education and to some degree majority of the corporate world.

This kind of thinking implies the following logic.

Failure = Cost Resources = Bad for Profitability  = Must be avoided.

And from an accounting point of view, it is ABSOLUTELY correct.

So as a result we adopt this kind of logic into our daily lives. That leaves us with a question...

Should we?

Hello no. In this type of corporate world, failure isn't an option but it should be. If you look at global businesses, it is a rare occurrence when accounting mentality takes over the operations of the business, it begins to thrive and develop.

This is because accountants don't like uncertainty and trying something new .... by its nature is uncertain.

Keeping things the same will get you the usual results and businesses are pressured internally to do the same thing... We all know accountants like predictability.  Just look at the number of sequels and remakes there have been over the last decades in the movie business.  Because they are a sure thing, right?!

But that's the problem.

Think of Apple Inc when Steve Jobs was effectively sacked, Apple effectively lost their leader who was not afraid of trying new things and pretty much was the focus and inspiration or a slave driver but that depends on who you talk to.

Over the next 11 years Apple had ups and downs and built up a reputation in the business world but to you and me they became another computer company and their stock prices reflected that (I wish I was old enough to buy some shares then). That All changed when Steve Jobs returned to the company in 1996 and the rest is history. Steve Jobs was not afraid to fail. don't get me wrong, he did not want to fail but he was not afraid of it.

To fail means to have attempted something.

You must remember that failure is part of the process or journey that everyone who desires success must accept, much like a child receiving presents on Christmas morning without knowing whether or not their parents bought them an iPhone.  Must open the presents and find out if the wait is over.  

Failure cannot exist without the possibility of success.

They are part of the same coin and can only come together as one.

Because if everything in life was guaranteed then success would be meaningless.

Failure gives meaning to success

Let me put it to you another way.

When we see someone receiving a gold medal for running a marathon in Record-breaking time, is it the first time this athlete attempted the record? Of course not, they have probably been training for decades to achieve this result. Could they have failed this time? Absolutely! But they did not focus on what can go wrong. instead, they focused on what can go right. Bam! Record Broken.

Even David Goggins the real-life superhuman has failed at world records, but he learned from his mistakes and came back stronger to smash those records.

🏁So what's the point?

Well, everyone fails, but it's how you react to failure and focus on what needs to change in order to succeed.

Failure teaches us something about ourselves. It shows us a huge mirror and says are you happy with that? Or are you going to do something?

People who accept failure and stop trying are content to be that way. They are back in their comfort zone and nothing can hurt them there, or so they think. Avoid failure for too long you will get less and less comfortable because they are not growing as an individual and being stuck at the same point they were when they started to avoid failure and adopt the accountant's approach to risk.  

How you act in failure defines you as a person.