Here’s to Failure

This post is actually an article I wrote for Promotional Products Business in October 2007.

“Do or do not… there is no try.”

– Master Yoda (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back)

I have heard many speakers and trainers over the years. Many of them will echo the sentiments of Master Yoda; you either accomplish something or you do not. A very simple concept and easily measured. It is a fairly simple matter to look at a task and tell whether it has been accomplished or not. However, in the accomplishment, little is known about what lead up to the achievement. In other words, how many times did someone have to “try” something until they got it right?

That has always been one of the reasons such stark statements such as Master Yoda’s have made me uncomfortable. How many people, having listened to such “motivational speakers”, were scared away from even attempting something great because the risk of failure was too great? How many Million Dollar Ideas have been left unfulfilled because the dreamer was afraid of being stuck on “try”?

Is there some great accomplishment or goal left undone in your life?  Do you have a buried, burning desire left unrequited in your psyche?  Well then, my friend read on and hopefully you’ll find the inspiration to add that goal back to your to-do list and give it the “old college try”.

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” – Calvin Coolidge (30th US President)

You have, no doubt, heard the tales of Thomas Alva Edison developing the first practical incandescent light bulb. What you don’t hear about are the many inventors who came before him, the ones who “failed” in developing the proper technology, but blazed a path for Edison to follow. Edison was the technocrat who perfected it and unfortunately, got all the credit. But, I ask, where would Edison have started? Would he have had the imagination to even start? I say, let’s hear it for the dreamers who “tried” before him.

What I want to see is more failure. I want to encourage those intrepid spirits out there who have an idea, a dream, a goal; it is time for you to shake the doldrums and go for what you seek. Those of you who feel you can do something more; I say, you won’t know until you start. To those of you who have an unspoken truth in your life; speak truth to power. I want those of you who have the next incandescent bulb in your brain to put your ideas into action. You will never know until you try.

You may have heard the statistics of Babe Ruth, the best (my opinion) baseball player in the history of the game. For many years, he was the record holder for the most homeruns. Babe Ruth hit 714 homeruns in his career. He also struck out 1330 times. So, one can say that he failed almost twice as many times as he succeeded. However, what is not as often cited is the fact that he had a career batting average of .342. This means he failed 63.8% of the time he “tried”. Yet he is one of the most famous figures of the 20th Century because he “tried” mightily and was not afraid to fail.

So, here’s to failure, trying, struggle; long may it reign. Put it to work in your life. Persist and see what it does for your life, your income and your legacy.

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. … his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt (26th US President)

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