The concept of failure has almost universally gained a negative reputation. To be called a “failure” is a deeply cutting, even personal insult, and the idea of failing is the ultimate consequence to any attempted action. The term “fail” has even garnered a widely used meme, as evidenced by websites such as failblog.org.
However, failure is not an entirely bad component of our lives. This may seem contrary to its inherent nature, but failing can actually provide some benefits, especially in a few key aspects.
Trial and Error
Thomas Edison did not invent the incandescent light bulb on his first try. In fact, legend has it that he tried over 1,000 times to perfect the model for a glowing filament lit by an electrical current. Other products, such as rubber and popsicles, were inspired by serendipitous accidents that, without the creativity of the inventors who witnesses their formative moments, would have been regarded as failures. It is a fact of life that sometimes it is simply necessary, however unfortunate of a truth that is, that some things must be learned by trying them multiple times until the right way is discovered, despite the many “wrong” ways along the way.
Promote Healthy Competition
Especially in the business world, failure can be a very healthy, normal thing. This may be seen as an extension of the evolutionary idea of “survival of the fittest”; that is, the death of a weaker animal, or business, may be beneficial to the other members of the system as a whole. In our American capitalist economy, competition drives high-quality products at cheaper prices. In order to maintain that wonderfully simplistic idea, some organization must occasionally be pruned from the whole.
Perhaps the benefit of failure that is most difficult to grasp in its intangible quality is that of building character. It can be seen, though, that many of our most significant growth points as human beings occur from negative events. Losing a big competition, getting dumped by a love interest, a car accident, and many other happenings can easily be seen as failures; yet, through them, invaluable lessons are learned the life continues, perhaps at an even better place.
It is in this, then, that failure is perhaps most ironic: In its attempt to be a completely negative consequence, it fails! This complex, oxymoron-like connection, once understood, can be a source of hope to many who, otherwise, would be discouragement. Rather than dissuade people from further efforts, failure should merely be a spur that propels all to greater heights.