Failure is Nothing to Fear



Ask someone what they fear, and a likely answer will be “failure.” Humans fear failure because of the distress we feel when we fall short of our goals or expectations. Being afraid keeps us planted firmly where we are; causing us to reach only for things easy enough to be a guaranteed success.


But we pay a hefty price when we avoid failure: We miss out on opportunities to learn and grow.


Achieving great things, or learning something new and challenging, requires failure. It is a feature; an essential part of the process. Making mistakes is required for us to learn how to do something properly. You know what to do by knowing what not to do, or as Ryan Holiday puts it in his book The Obstacle is the Way: "Failure shows us the way–by showing us what isn't the way.”


You can’t be expected to know the right way to play a chord if you haven’t felt what it’s like to play it the wrong way, or to know what writing a good song is like if you’ve never written a bad one. These experiences are simply stepping stones toward your future success. Each “stone” of failure gets you closer to where you want to go.


People who are successful have likely failed many more times than they’ve succeeded. But what sets them apart from your average person is that they took those failures, treated them like the valuable learning experiences they were, and kept moving forward.


While it may feel better in the moment to stick with what’s easy and comfortable, avoiding new experiences, for fear of the mistakes they may bring, will only lead to stagnation and regret. If you haven’t been experiencing failure regularly, you likely aren’t challenging yourself enough. Start moving beyond your current boundaries, and when you do have a misstep, recognize its value and let it make you better than when you started.