Failing: It’s OK To Fail… Here’s Why…

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” ~ Henry Ford

Why It's OK To Fail

Do you ever feel lousy because you just failed at something?

Well, you shouldn’t. It’s OK to fail. Assuming two very simple things:

  1. You tried
  2. You’re going to get back up and try again

That’s it. Then you may have failed but you’re not a failure.

Guess why I’m writing this brief post about failing…

Because I just failed.

It wasn’t even a particularly big challenge – but I was over-confident and I got it all wrong. I slipped up, caved in, wobbled, fell over… failed – but it’s just no biggie, because I tried, I started, I’m up and running with my new idea (which is fasting every Sunday) and I’ll try again.

A Bit Of Background

Following my interview with Annie about her 30 day water-only fast, and some further research on the subject, I decided to further modify my version of the slow-carb diet. My new version will be: 5 days slow-carb (Mon-Fri), 1 day cheat day (Sat) and 1 day water only fast (Sun).

Why I Failed

Two words: Over Confidence.

A water-only fast for one day? Easy peasy. OK, a few friends and my wife said I was stupid for doing this but who cares? Not me. They are just being nay-sayers. Ignore them. This would definitely be easy – and it should have been. I originally planned to have just tea and water for the first time of trying this because I already know that because I love tea so much and admittedly drink too much of it, when I don’t have tea for a whole day, I have been known to get headaches (not a good sign, I know).

In the end I went about my day as normal but I didn’t have my usual morning cup of tea. I just had some water. I took the dog for a walk. I arranged a game of golf with some friends from around 3pm. Still just water. Should I have some tea before going to play golf? Nah, I’ll be fine. I was starting to feel a little light-headed and a bit hungry too but thought it would pass.

In short, I was over-confident.

Before I even hit my first golf ball (in the car on the way to the course) I started to develop quite a bad headache.

How I Failed

Completely, but consciously.

I’d actually packed a couple of bags of peanuts in my golf bag. I know I have the will-power to resist, but it wasn’t a case of will-power. My head was really killing me by the 14th hole and I felt quite faint. So I had a few peanuts and then had a soup and a few cups of tea when I got home.

Why It Doesn’t Matter

It doesn’t matter that I failed this time. It really doesn’t. As I said in the beginning 1) because I tried, I drank nothing but water from 8am to 6pm and probably could have braved it out and lasted the whole day, but there is really no need to be a martyr about it, the thing that I’m looking for is sustainable change. As I wrote in my article about a diet system that works, it’s really important that whatever changes you do make to your routine, your diet, your life – are sustainable. Otherwise you will be in yo-yo land and could cause more damage than good.

Oh, I nearly forgot to mention, 2) I will try again (next week). In general, things are either getting better, or they are getting worse. These are the only two trends that matter. Assuming that I will do better next week (I’m certain I will) and that this is a beneficial and sustainable change (that’s the theory for the moment anyway, if not I reckon I’ll lose weight, get healthier and learn some more stuff along the way) – then we’re cool.

What I’ll Do Different Next Time

I think I’ll stick to my original plan of starting with water and tea only but allowing myself 5 cups of tea throughout the day. I will then reduce this by one or more cups of tea a week depending how I feel to get to water only worst case in 5 weeks (but probably sooner).

When It’s OK To Give Up

It’s never OK to give up.

I said above that you are not a failure if you keep on trying. Take the feedback from your experience and try again.

There is one caveat though.

What if that information, after one or more attempts tells you that this thing just doesn’t make sense anymore?

OK, then stop.

BUT – this is stopping, it is not giving up. It may be quite subtle but there is a huge difference. Stopping (assuming it’s genuinely the right decision) is allowed. Giving up isn’t.

Usually though, you just need a new approach.

Conclusion

It’s OK to fail. Successful people fail all of the time. The thing that makes them successful is not failing, it’s learning, refining and trying again, until they succeed.

Ironically failing does not mean failure. Failing, if anything means success – i.e. in most situations, to really succeed, you have to fail first. Again, assuming 1) You tried and 2) You get back up and try again (usually with new information and therefore a refined approach).

So this is a teeny-weeny example, but guess what? For really big things, the same rules apply. As long as 1) You tried and 2) you take the lessons learned and try again, then you are a success, not a failure. You’re only a failure when you give up. If you want a bigger example from me by the way, don’t worry, I have plenty of them 😉

Do you have any examples (big or small) where you failed but either gave up when you could have kept trying or kept trying and got the results you wanted in the end?


Comments

Failing: It’s OK To Fail… Here’s Why… — 12 Comments

  1. I wish you were in charge of the education system Alan, the world would be a better place. As someone who has kids (4 to be exact) and a business that revolves around children’s confidence and self esteem…..I can tell you that the education system is broken. And that broken thinking carries into the workplace as we get older.

    A great quote I saw once was that children enter school as a question mark and leave as a period. All of that curiosity and willingness to take chances leads way to being terrified of being wrong, because they teach you being wrong is the worst thing you can be.

    If you’re interested in education, take a look at Ken Robinson’s great Ted talk on “Do schools kill creativity”

    Always great stuff Alan, cheers

    • Wow Gary, thanks for such an awesome comment.

      and I agree with you – my kids are quite lucky to be going to quite an ‘open’ school where the teachers treat the children more like adults and actually discuss things with them, but I know exactly what you mean and relate to everything you said in this comment.

      I’ll check out that TED talk, thanks for the tip, I’m off to S of France on hols for 3 weeks as of tomorrow and have way too much to finish tomorrow before I go and too little time to do it in, but promise I will check it out when I’m back, OK?

      I do really appreciate the recommendation (and the great comment),

      take care my friend,
      Alan

  2. By failing we realize that we are not the best and that we should strive to be if we want to be successful. It is okay to fail, most of the time because there are always thing to learn and things to practice even if we are already the best. Thanks for sharing!

    • Yes, Yes, Yes.

      Possibly the only failure would be believing we have nothing left to learn.

      thanks for the great comment April,
      Alan

  3. By failing to do what I had in mind, or what I had expected myself to accomplish, I will be able to realize a lot of things. Failing to accomplish would let me realize that my efforts are futile and I should change my strategy and not stop completely. Failing would let me realize that there are still things that I cannot do and things that I still need a lot more experience in. Failing would show me that I am not at the top nor should I act like even though I may accomplish being at the top. It is only in humility that people survive the fall when they fail

    • Exactly – and really successful people often don’t perceive a ‘fall’ at all when they fail, it’s just part of the journey – another avenue they explored that didn’t work, but no need to fall at all.

      Generally it’s Limiting Beliefs that make people think things like ‘It’s no good’, ‘I can’t do this’, ‘It will never work’ – but successful people just learn the lessons, adjust their approach and move on…

      Every world champion for example failed first before they made it.

  4. You got it right on that in order to succeed you have to fail first. It really is ok to fail. You can’t set expectations for yourself to succeed 100% of the time. It won’t work.

    I read once that in Silicon Valley, going through bankruptcy is actually a rite of passage. Some will talk it up as if to say that they really put themselves out there and tried something new. And that’s a good thing to do. I guess you can really learn a lot from it and that’s something you can bring to the table the next time you take a chance.

    • Interesting point – personally I like small failures and to fail fast, learn a little then move on but I see the point.

      Maybe in some ways, the bigger the failure the bigger the lesson.

      I must be in whatever is the opposite of Silicon Valley here in my little cottage in the countryside – Limestone Valley.

      Maybe the most important part of this concept is just the knowledge that it’s OK to Fail – not the act of failing, but the knowledge and giving yourself permission to fail – because then you expand your boundaries and empower yourself.

    • Exactly Mika,

      successful people see failing not as failure, but as part of the journey and learning experience of putting yourself out there and taking on new challenges.

      whoever got really successful without ever failing at anything along the way? I doubt that we could find many examples, if any…

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