Saturday, February 12, 2011

Failure had better be an option.

No matter how good you are, you can be better. Improving is  going to require frequent trips outside your comfort zone, and you might fail while you're out there. It's scary, but it's worth it. When you risk failing at something epic, you also risk succeeding at it.
When deciding what to do, you have to choose between:
1. Guaranteeing success at something trivial.
2. Risking failure trying something outside your comfort zone.
Both of these labels are moving targets. For example, making an omelette might be routine for you, or it might be completely beyond your skills. As you learn, your comfort zone expands.
You can always wrap yourself in the warm blanket of security and pour yourself a bowl of Cheerios, confident that your breakfast is going to turn out just like you expect. Sometimes you just need to get through breakfast and on with the day, but accept that you're not going to grow in the doing of it.
Conversely if you are certain that something's going to fail,  it's probably not worth it either.
Where things start to get interesting is in that in-between area where you don't know whether something's going to work out, and you have some control over the outcome.
This is where the opportunities for personal growth emerge. Here, beyond the edges of your comfort zone, lie the things that you can stretch to accomplish. They're uncomfortable. They're scary. They will certainly teach you about what you're capable of, but you might fail.
You can look for the sure thing. You can stamp out every risk of failure and wrap yourself in blankets inside your comfort zone.  To refuse to fail is to refuse to grow. It sure is comfortable though. It won't make you better.
Failure has to be an option, because it is the trying and the growing that make life worthwhile.
"A ship in harbour is safe — but that's not what ships are built for." John A. Shedd, Salt From My Attic, 1928

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1 comment:

  1. Just found this today: Seth Godin on Success and failure: The Flip Side.