In a recent article, Keith Blakemore-Noble wrote:
“We've all done it.
“Most of us are absolute masters at it.
“Planning and carefully considering all the options and adjusting the plan and preparing contingencies in case it doesn't work, and then delaying while we find out a bit more just to be on the safe side, and...
“Anything to avoid actually starting on whatever brand new adventure we have in mind in case we get something wrong and make a mistake and fail.
“So we tell ourselves that we should at least try, because it's better than not trying. But that is small comfort when faced with the fear of trying and failing - sure, we may have tried, but we'd still have failed. And that's just too awful to contemplate.
“Well, no, not really.
“You see, the problem here is that the emphasis is still on "fail" being such a negative outcome; and something to be avoided at all costs even to the extent of permanent procrastination. Sure, we tell ourselves that it's better to try and fail than never to try, but we only say that to assuage our guilt about failing, and if we are honest, our fear of failing is such that we'd rather not try if failure is the risk.
“Which dooms us to complete failure, as all we do is guarantee that we can never succeed; whereas if we start then even though we risk failure, we at least allow ourselves the possibility of eventual success sooner or later.
“But the most important point is that by failing, you have been given a great opportunity to learn! You now know, at the very least, one course of action which doesn't do what you wanted. So at the very least you know more than you did before you tried.
“And if you carefully examine exactly what happened to learn precisely why it failed, then you can learn some wonderful additional lessons; you might uncover a whole raft of new knowledge about what went wrong, which you can use to figure out a much better of achieving your aims. You might even learn some things which stop you from making bigger mistakes further down the line. And all because you failed in this attempt.
“We rely on failure.
“Failure is fundamental to our overall ultimate success in anything and everything.
“It is failure which provides us with those biggest lessons, the most important one which give us so many useful and important insights later on.
“When we were babies, we didn't know how to walk. Initially, we couldn't even crawl! But with slow, steady perseverance, we first learned how to crawl, then how to stand, albeit very briefly, then how to sort of fall forwards in a controlled way, and soon we were taking out first tentative steps, having learned a lot of invaluable lessons along the way about balance, movement, muscle control; thank goodness we were not afraid as babies to fail, or we'd never have progressed beyond lying there!
“Not forgetting that all the lessons we learned about how to hand without toppling over and about how to walk without falling, those all came in very handy for learning how to run, or hop, or jump, or ride a bicycle... the list is almost endless, and all achieved by not being afraid to fail, fail and fail again until we had learned what we needed to learn in order to guarantee success.
“Just as Edison is reputed to have found 10,000 ways not to make a light bulb before he succeeded in making one, if you find a dozen ways not to create whatever it is you are attempting to create, then that means that when you do succeed (and you will succeed provided you don't give up), your success will be built upon all that knowledge gained from the earlier attempts and the result will be all the stronger for it.
“Which is why it is so much better to have tried and failed than never to have failed at all, because that one failure brings you so much closer to stronger success and with it the confidence to really know that your success is a strong one because you have already ironed out the possible failures”.