Quality Blog

Don't Fear Failure

September 12, 2011

Fear of failure can be immobilizing. This fear causes us not to move forward in our professional and personal lives.

Fear of failure typically results in not stretching ourselves to be the best that we can be. If you never fail, then our goals are not nearly ambitious enough. If we do not come across new challenges on a regular basis, our abilities and effectiveness will become stale and weak.

Without stretching ever higher, we will suffer the risk of falling into a comfort zone. While a comfort zone is a good state in which to find rest, renewal and refuge, it should only be a respite. A comfort zone becomes a dreary and dismal place to take up permanent residence.

The reason life can be so fulfilling is because it can be so difficult at times. We cannot possibly appreciate or fully benefit from the good things if we don’t experience the unfortunate outcomes.

When our efforts are met with failure, it could be sign that we just might be onto something. On the other side of that failure is often real and substantive accomplishment–success!

Therefore, we should seek not to create failure, nor to fear failure. We should seek instead to allow failure, when it comes, to keep us moving on the path to success.

Thomas A Edison, American inventor, held more than 1,000 patents in his name. Among his many quotes was “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” He often commented that he started work where the last man left off.

Edison, nor any of the more successful people, let fear of failure discourage them. They accepted the challenge as an opportunity to accomplish their goals. Let's use their example to more forward.

Failure confirms that we are reaching higher. And higher is always the best direction to reach. Remember, failure is objective evidence that someone tried to do something.

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Charles J. Hellier has been active in the technology of nondestructive testing and related quality and inspection fields since 1957. Here he talks with Quality's managing editor, Michelle Bangert, about the importance of training.
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