From birth we all have a desire to achieve the things we set out to accomplish. This doesn't have to be taught, it's an innate human characteristic. Have you ever watched small children trying to do something independently? They try over and over and over until finally they are able to do it with no concern for how many times they failed befored it was achieved. Somehow life experience teaches us that failure is a terrible thing and that we should avoid it at all costs. We're taught that we should feel ashamed when we fail and, after a few more unsuccessful attempts, that maybe we should just stop trying. If I surveyed a large group of people I'm certain the majority consensus would be that failure is a bad thing. However, a recent television interview gave me a new perspective on failure and I'd like to share it with you.
Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, is one of the wealthiest women in the US and was named in Time Magazine's list of the most influential people in the world. In a recent interview Blakely was asked about her opinion on failure and she shared that while growing up her father encouraged she and her brother to fail at something every day. Every night at dinner her father would ask them what they failed at during the day and he would be disappointed if they had nothing to report. To Blakely's father failing meant that they had actually tried something outside of their comfort zones and Blakely attributed much of her success to this daily habit. Ultimately the lesson learned was never to give up, to never stop trying, to be comfortable in discomfort, to step out on faith believing that you can actually achieve what you set out to achieve. Somehow Blakely's father had figured out a way to help his children sustain their innate determination so they wouldn't have to accept the world's view of failure.
If you listen to the stories of most influential people you'll see this same trend. Almost all of them were faced with some opposition that they were determined to overcome. Their desire to achieve outweighted their fear of failure to the point that, like for Blakely, failure became a positive because it meant that they actually tried. I welcome you to join me as I also transform my opinion of failure and step out to achieve my personal and professional goals.
Let your legacy be a story of perseverence, not a tale of surrender.
Romaine A. Wright