Failure: Dreams & Success

Last week, the vocalist from my favourite band, Otep Shamaya, posted this quote on their facebook page:

“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”
– Dr. Robert Schuller

And it got me thinking.
I would run a proper, full-day, paid workshop, sell my eBook and get some formal training for my energy healing. I didn’t even take a breath between reading it and thinking that answer. Well.. technically, my first  answer was “Everything”  but that’s a bit vague.

“Would you like me to give you a formula for… success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure… Go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because, remember that’s where you’ll find success.”

– Thomas J Watson

Simplify your Work

This reminded me of a snippet from Tim Ferriss’s book the Four-Hour Work Week, where he separates the “what do you do” from “how do you earn money?”. For example, if I had a job, the answer would be:

What do I do?

  • Dance
  • Sing
  • Laugh
  • Love
  • Volunteer
  • Create
  • Focus..

How do I earn my money?

  • Insert job title here
  • Take part in paid psychology experiments
  • Do odd jobs round my parents house
  • Get older each year [birthday money]

What’s your skill?

  • Leadership
  • Breaking through fear barriers [getting good at, not an expert]
  • Singing
  • Dancing? [apparently]
  • Drinking herbal teas [I’m pro]
  • Listening/Talking

You catch my drift. Following on my previous post; society defines our successes by accomplishment:

  • Position within a company
  • Size of our house
  • Type/number of cars
  • Money earned
  • Child’s successes/clothes/toys

“It’s about finding the right balance between work – having a creative dream, having a career and also being a mother and having the good time with your kids… to be able to spend time with them every day.”
Stine Holscher

So I challenge you: decide which of these is idyllic and go for it. If you couldn’t fail, would you aim for a life with your family, living out your values in creativity; or work from 6-6 every weekday?

“By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may eventually get to be a boss and work twelve hours a day.”
– Robert Frost

The Choice

Consider this: Which of the above two quotes would you prefer to live?

In my imagination, I’m in a smaller house with my husband; where the mortgage is small; we live happily on £30-£40 a week for groceries [he loves to cook/experiment] and thus out outgoing wouldn’t be too high. This would enable us to work less, so we could spend more time together/pursuing hobbies/ with friends and family.

Can you see yourself in that vision? Not in my house; get your own! (However, you can come round for dinner one night, if it’ll inspire you to give up working yourself into exhaustion.)

From what I’ve seen, the Nine-To-Five gives you:

  • Money
  • Stress
  • Something to do [time-wasters like meetings which put you behind]

But you often sacrifice:

  • Friends
  • Family
  • Time
  • Hobbies
  • Healthy eating
  • Exercise
  • Individuality
  • Freedom
  • Priorities/Values that matter to you

Two Sides of the Coin

What are the chances of failure, and what would you lose? What would gain?

Things you may gain in a failure:

  • Experience [skills – communication/leadership]
  • Knowledge    [to advise others]
  • Perhaps money at first
  • Happiness
  • Clarity of what you want [That/ Not that]

Now flip it: what are your chances of success and what would you lose/gain by succeeding?

Things you may gain in succeeding:

  • Time
  • Money
  • Happiness
  • Community [new friends in the field/more time for friends]
  • Respect
  • Credibility
  • Relative Skills – business/time management or communication skills

Tell me that isn’t worth it.

Generally the potential losses are repairable: money and time. Obviously you can’t get time back, but since most jobs seem to cause waste, you may as well lose it doing something you love; something that has a chance at success: Time spent learning the lessons or skills that failure can teach.

“You’ll always miss one hundred percent of the shots you do not take.”

– Wayne Gretzky

“Nothing fails like success because we don’t learn from it.  We learn only from failure.”

– Kenneth Boudling

“We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do, by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake, never made a discovery.”

– Samuel Smiles

“If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.”
–  Woody Allen

“The things that hurt us teach us.
Author Unknown

“Make failure your teacher, not your undertaker.”
Zig Ziglar

Just because you fail, it doesn’t mean you lose. Take a chance.
So, Dr. Schuller: What would you do if you couldn’t fail?    You’d never learn, grow and thus never succeed.


Picture Credit: Behrooz Nobakht


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2 thoughts on “Failure: Dreams & Success

  1. Once again, great post Rose, I love the quotes you chose, I think they really capture the virtues of failing. I especially enjoyed reading about the flip sides of failing/succeeding, it just goes to show that as long as you try you can’t lose either way!

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