Silver Spur Founder Bradley Joseph has been hard at work this year launching “Off the Grid,” to engage the Denver community in the tiny house movement. For the program, he and the other founders drafted the following tagline, “We believe in the power of placemaking, the importance of community engagement and the beauty of being free to fail.”
That statement got us thinking about failure, and all of the differing opinions about it. Failure is not something society often talks about, but it is a big part of everyone’s lives. Here is our take on three different ways to view failure:
Failure is not an Option
“If at first you don’t succeed; try, try again.”
“Winners never quit.”
“There is no failure except in giving up.”
Failure is something we have been taught time and time again to avoid. It starts at a young age–we are afraid to fail a test, flunk out of a grade and fall behind our peers. This paranoia is carried over into sports, where we are told if we train hard enough eventually we will win. Then those childhood lessons take root in adulthood, where we fear failure in the workplace, in our personal lives and in our relationships.
We don’t think this view on failure is very practical. None of us are perfect, and we are bound to fail at something we try. The failing part isn’t as important as the trying part, which leads us to our next point…
Failure is meant to teach us a lesson
“You don’t drown by falling in the water, you drown by staying there.”
“Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
“Failure is nothing more than a chance to revise your strategy.”
At Silver Spur, we firmly believe that failure is a way to learn and grow. You have to fail before you figure out how far you can push yourself. Then, once you do, you can step back, reevaluate and do it better next time.
There are many people we admire for their perseverance and fortitude–where would the world be today without J.K. Rowling, Einstein or Walt Disney? All of the people in the infographic below pursued their dreams almost at all cost, and in some cases (we’re looking at you, Van Gogh) never saw their hard work pay off. It is so important to keep fighting for your dreams even when the battle feels uphill and nearly impossible. We all encounter failure when striving for our goals, but what really matters is how you assess your failure and then get up to try again the next day.
Credit: Fabienne Wente
Now, our final point about failure is less common. Recently, we read an article in Inc. about how mentally strong people know when to quit. We were intrigued by this viewpoint (having always considered failure as an opportunity to learn) and decided to look into it a little more:
Learn When to Accept Defeat…and Quit.
We tried to find some quotes supporting this point, but our Google search only resulted in quotes telling us NOT to quit.
“If you get tired, learn to rest–not to quit.”
“If you quit once it becomes a habit. Never quit.”
“One of the most important choices you’ll ever make is choosing to walk away, or try harder.”
As we said in our previous point, we believe that MOST failures are opportunities to learn and improve. However, the Inc. article makes a good point–sometimes you have to know when to call it quits. What if the cost of achieving your goal is outweighing the goal itself? Or if the pursuit of your dreams is forcing you to compromise your values along the way? Most of all, what if your goals have completely changed?
Just because you set a goal that temporarily defined your path DOES NOT mean you have to pursue it at all costs. If you take a moment to step back, sometimes it may make more sense to walk away. Changing your path doesn’t mean that you’ve failed or that you have stopped trying–it simply means that you’ve made a pivot and plan to continue working and striving to reach your (new) goals.
We think Scott Fitzgerald said it perfectly:
“For what it’s worth:
It’s never too late to be
whoever you want to be.
I hope you live a life
you’re proud of,
and if you find that
I hope you have the
strength to start over.”
What do you think? Do you think it is important to know when to quit? Let us know in the comment box below!