Failure is Important

It's just Hair.

Photo by Striatic

On December 31st I woke up early, went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. For weeks I had been saying I needed to get my hair cut. The front was too long, the ends were split and I just didn’t like it. Sitting in the vanity was a pair of cuticle scissors and a hair tie.

So I did it.

I tied up my hair except the bottom and cut about an inch. Took down another layer, cut that and then started to cut smaller sections shorter, layering my hair as I went. I kept going with a third section and then the front. By the time I was done I had lost a bit of hair but still kept my over all length.

Which is exactly what I wanted. Every time I go to a hair salon I have to spend time explaining exactly what I want and then normally hear “Well we cant cut this like that or it will look weird.” or “Don’t cut your own hair – you will mess it up!”

But you know what I was thinking as I was cutting. Its Just Hair. Guess what, it grows back. In the end I cut the front pieces a little shorter than I would like and its probably a little thinner than I intended, but in a few weeks the front pieces will be longer, my hair will get a little fuller and over all I am perfectly happy with it.

But what if I had messed up?

Its just hair. I would have just had to cut some more and let it grow out again. Cutting my hair didn’t make a drastic change in my appearance. But it made a drastic change in how I appeared to me. And it feels great.

I know everything in life cannot equate to a simple haircut, but sometimes failure can be an option. How many times have you thought about doing something and then stopped? I do this all the time. From something small like not leaving a comment, to not actualizing an idea. What’s holding me back?

Fear.

Fear of failure is strong. Sometimes its as small as a fear of looking silly (failing to leave a comment). Or it can be big as actually failing say a business venture, getting into a top school, making new friends. But if we allow fear to keep us from trying then failure becomes the only option.

Failure is Optional.

Whenever we try something new there are always more than one outcome.

  • Success – getting the achievement you hoped for.

  • Something in between – not quite the goal you had in mind. Sometimes this is really positive and your end results are something better than you expected. But this can also be less than positive, not quite a failure but still needs work.

  • Failure – It can happen. Nothing is certain, but you can choose to let a failure shape you or you can choose to shape the failure.

By choosing to allow ourselves to fail, to even be prepared for it, we admit that we cant control everything, we are not perfect and even the best laid plans can result in catastrophe. But failure does not always have to be negative.

Failure is a learning experience.

By failing we learn. Even the best trained athlete miss, fail or don’t meet their expectations. That’s why they train. Failure is one way of training. Examine what went wrong, learn from it and try again.

Each time you try something new, instead of betting on a sure win, instead expect to succeed and fail. If you succeed, fantastic. If you fail, learn from it. Examine what went wrong? What can be changed? Most importantly try again.

Is this easy? Not by a long shot. But is it worth it? Every time. Whenever I allow myself to take a chance regardless of the the result Ive gained something. Going to law school – for me that was a failure, but I learned more about myself in those months. Travelling half-way across the country to meet someone I met only online – huge potential failure! But instead it was a huge success.

The point is to just try.

What have been some of your biggest successes? What have been some of your biggest failure? Did you allow yourself to learn from them? How did you move on? Share your tactics in the comments.