Failure is perceived as an ugly word.
One that, Apollo 13 Flight Director Gene Kranz famously stated, “is not an option.”
Though I love the brash, chest-rounding spirit of, “failure is not an option”in Kranz’s case, failure wasn’t an option. If he failed, three astronauts would have died.
But most of us are not NASA Flight Directors (and if you are please stop reading this post and get back to work there are lives at stake!). Most of us are regular people grinding through life. Regular people who consistently fail and who are often petrified by the fear of failure.
No disrespect to Mr. Kranz, but the older I get the more I think failure is an option. And a damn good one. Because failure indicates a try. And sometimes as adults we stop trying. We fail to heed the immortal parenting advice we give our children whenever they’re uncertain, “All you can do is try your best.”
I write every poorly morning.
Now before I write, I sit quietly for a few minutes, clear my head and sip my coffee. When I’m ready to write I whisper to myself (like a caffeinated crazy person), “Today is a great day to fail.”
I know– it’s stupid. It’s anti-American. But acknowledging that I’m about to do something imperfectly diminishes the weighty stress of trying to be perfect.
If I was like ,”Today, I am going to write like Charles Dickens!” I would be petrified, immobilized by the thought of writing like the original Chuck D.
My goal is not to write like Dickens. My goal, for better or worse, is just to write, everyday. And if I can do that, no matter the of quality then I’m victorious, everyday.
In our hot pursuit of perfection we forget that failure, not perfection, is the catalyst for growth. We also forget that no one dwells on our failures as much as we do.
Look, dear Reader– you’re not perfect. I’m not perfect. In fact, we stink.
So now that we have established our ineptitude, our incompetence– we have permission to fly.
Listen to the Power of Creativity Podcast: Episode #1 where I discuss fear, failure, creativity and parenthood with artist Amy R Terlecki.