Why You and I Need to Fail

By:Jack Heimbigner
Photo by Andreas Wagner on Unsplash

ne of the best managers I have ever had allowed me to fail on multiple occasions. He kept a safety net available just in case I could not recover. But he stayed back to see what I would do and to allow me to learn.

And more often than not, I would find a way to recover, take responsibility for my failure, and push on toward success.

This manager was my boss right out of college. He didn’t micromanage me. Though I am sure he kept a close eye on what was going on with my work. He knew it was important for me to fail sometimes in order for me to succeed later.

This morning, I was reminded of this quote by C.S. Lewis:

“Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement.” — C.S. Lewis

As a father, mentor, and tenured coworker; I have tried to implement my old managers tactics with those I am building into on a regular basis.

It’s OK to fail sometimes.

Because ultimately those failures will lead to something great. “Finger posts to achievement.

Repeated Failure

Repeated failure is good for growth, but hard on pride. On my father’s side of my family, there is a tendency to think we know everything. And this trait causes us to argue our points so exhaustively we don’t allow ourselves to be proven wrong. Even if we are wrong.

However, the course of my life has shown it is very good for me to fail. It is important for me to be humbled. In these moments I can either run away from the important lesson to learn or I can step into the failure and began down a path of greatness.

Failure after failure is telling us we need to change direction and step into a place where we can succeed.

There are very few people who ONLY succeed at every endeavor of their lives. And even then, most of the time, these folks just push past a failure to learn from it and continue down the road.

Getting Lost

Iwill be the first to tell you I get lost a lot while driving. My wife will back this up. If we are going somewhere I have never been before or have only been a few times, I will ultimately pass the street we need to go down. Or even better, I will take a right instead of a left.

And when I am really on my game, I will get even more lost after my initial miscue. This is my least favorite game when I am with my family or by myself. However, it reminds me, that every wrong turn will help me remember the right way next time.

If I am in a good place, I will adjust and work to get back to where I want to be. If I am in a bad place, I become super irritable and things only get worse.

Life is a lot like getting lost.

We fail. Then we need to decide whether we will correct our course or simply keep getting frustrated trying to force it. When we can take a moment and correct our course, that is when we step into the quote above.

Wrong Turns

You know why I liked the manager who let me fail so much? Because, he let me do it so I could learn to compose myself, take responsibility and recognize failure for what it is: a wrong turn.

And a wrong turn is a simple thing to correct. You accept its the wrong direction and then you turn around and go back to where you are trying to go. That is it.

And that is why we need to fail.

We need to fail so we can learn how to deal with wrong turns in life.

These are the moments where we go bankrupt or realize we hate our jobs. It is in these moments we realize we are taking the wrong major in school. Or maybe a wrong turn is how we keep writing the blog which cannot get more than 100 views a month.