You Are Going To FAIL

Well, this title isn’t comforting is it? Failure just sounds depressing. No one likes to fail.  The very thought of failure can be intimidating.  It’s this thought that prevents most people from succeeding. But to make this post a little more uplifting, I’m going to throw in a few random quotes about failure and how failure should be viewed.

Like this,

“Embrace adversity and make failure a regular part of your life. If you’re not failing, you’re probably not really moving forward”.

– John C. Maxwell

(You can skip over the quotes so that the reading flows a little better, Just trying something out! Please tell me if it is annoying)

I would like to consider myself an expert at downhill skiing.  I love going down those double blacks and hitting all of that untouched powder. Finding a challenge and pushing my limits.

However, I didn’t get to this skill level overnight and I most certainly didn’t get this good without falling a time or two (a couple thousand actually).

When I was younger I remember complaining to my dad about how often I fell while skiing compared to some of my more advanced friends. Then he said something that has stuck in my mind and encourages me almost daily.

If you’re not falling then you are not trying“.

In School

A lot of us graduate students have been straight-A student’s, the best/favorite child in the family (I sure am), valedictorians, top of the class, etc. You kinda have to be, in order to get into graduate school.

For some, these things come naturally, for others, you have to work hard and really push your boundaries.

“The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to…failure”.

– John C. Maxwell

Now in dental school, I’m on a whole new different level and I really have to push my boundaries. Which, in turn, have lead to multiple failures (No worries, I’m passing all my classes…). What I mean is the first time I attempted a 1st class prep on a mandibular 2nd molar with a high-speed handpiece, it was nowhere near perfect.

It actually looked horrible.

I swear a blindfolded chimpanzee could have done better than I did! It took me close to 10 attempts to finally produce an “acceptable prep” on that tooth. At least that is what the doc said to help keep my spirits high.

Even after being told, “I did a good job”, I still haven’t received/earned a single “A” on any of the preps(drillings) that I have done. Not a single one…That’s ok though! I’m not perfect when it comes to my hand skills (I feel like I never will be). But I’m working on it, I’m learning from my failures and I am slowly becoming better.

School is a perfect time to fail and work on the new skills that are required for our field of practice. It is a time when the failures that we have, are supervised and we can have an instant criticism of our attempts. The criticisms can be harsh and sometimes extremely discouraging or they can be harsh and remarkably eye-opening.

“If you are succeeding in everything you do, then you’re probably not pushing yourself hard enough. And that means you’re not taking enough risks. You risk because you have something of value you want to achieve”.

– John C. Maxwell

Another nice thing is if we are going to make a HUGE mistake, the docs usually stop us beforehand. Take advantage of this and get out of your comfort zone. It’s not fun but it is completely worth it to push yourself. This is how you get good. You try something, you fail at it, you receive criticism and then you try it again.

“If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not working on hard enough problems. And that’s a Big mistake”.

– Frank Wilczek

I mean I am paying a fortune to be in school and learn these difficult tasks. I might as well try it even if I suck at it the first 50 times. Gotta’ get good somehow.

Financially

Just like everything else in life you are going to make mistakes and fail financially. It won’t be fun but it will happen. For some reason, I feel like failing financially is more intimidating than any other type of failure.

It is truly horrible to watch that money disappear because of a mistake we made. I mean we need that money.

There are soooo many mistakes that you can make financially, might as well get started on them early on. It’s the best time to fail because they are usually small and insignificant (in the grand scheme of things).

 “Fail often so you can succeed sooner”.

-Tom Kelley

Chances are you will listen to someone that “knows” the next unicorn in the stock market. You might let your emotions get the best of you in your investments. You might buy whole life insurance. You might try day trading. You might invest on margin. You might finance a car that you truly can’t afford. You might fall for a scam. You might hire the wrong financial advisor and have it cost you thousands of dollars (this happened to my mentor, he said his first financial advisor was a $700K mistake). You might invest in a bubble.

You might lose money. But guess what…

You’re going to lose money.

After losing your money and experiencing these failures, you learn that this method of investing isn’t the best way.

Fail Early, Fail Often, Fail Forward

Ok, I was going to just take a portion of this but honestly, I couldn’t, I loved all of it. Will Smith made a video about failure and this is what he says:

“Fail early, fail often, fail forward. It’s always a little bit frustrating to me when people have a negative relationship with failure. Failure is a massive part of being able to be successful. You have to get comfortable with failure, you have to seek failure because failure is where all of the lessons are.

You know, when you go to the gym and you work out, you’re actually seeking failure because you want to take your muscles to the point where you get to failure because that’s where the adaptation is and that’s where growth is.

Successful people fail a lot, they fail a whole lot more than they succeed. They extract the lessons from the failure and they use the energy and the wisdom to come around to the next phase of success.

You’ve gotta take shot, you’ve got to live at the edge of your capabilities. You gotta live where you’re almost certain that you’re going to fail. That’s the reason for practice. Practice is controlled failure, you’re getting to your limit, getting to your limit, getting to your limit.

You can’t lift that, you can’t do that until you get to the point that all of a sudden your body makes an adjustment and now you can do it. Failure actually helps you to recognize the areas where you need to evolve. So fail early, fail often, fail forward”.

-Will Smith

Learn From Failure

I think failure is more crucial for learning and achieving than successes are.

“Success is not built on success. It’s built on failure. It’s built on frustration. Sometimes it’s built on catastrophe”.

-Sumner Redstone

When I first started investing I made the stupid mistake of checking my investments… daily (basically hourly)… yup. I bought and sold because of my emotional attachment to that money and I lost quite a bit very quickly.

Even though I lost a lot (not too much for others but for me it was a ton!) I didn’t say “investing isn’t worth it” and give up. Nor did I say “I don’t know how to invest (which I didn’t), I need someone to do it for me”.

No.

I became educated, I read books, asked questions, wrote down goals, wrote down rules/guidelines that I have to follow.

What I am trying to get at, is to start making these mistakes ASAP so you can learn from them. The sooner the better and hopefully they won’t be as monumental as they were for my mentor (the one that has lost over $700k because of poor advice).

You can do the best you can to learn from the failures that happen to others, to help prevent your own. But there is something about having your own failures that give us the motivation to avoid making that same mistake again.

I’ve been knocked down a lot trying to get into dental school. But the only reason why I made it (or anyone makes it) is that I didn’t stay on the ground when I was knocked down, I got back up and tried again, but the second time I tried something different.

Those that fail and then give up are the only true failures. Don’t be a true failure, just fail often.

25 Comments on “You Are Going To FAIL”

  1. Well said. The best time to fail is when you are in school and training. I wish I had been more bold and pushed myself, but I was afraid to make mistakes. We are conditioned to always perform well, even while learning. I think that mindset holds us back.

  2. We’ve had many financial failures, but luckily most were small and we learned from them. Like the time we triggered a wash sale, or when we remained in target date funds longer than we should have, because we didn’t know what else to do with our money. Eventually we figured it out.

  3. Failing is a superpower if applied correctly. The fear of failure has killed more dreams than failing ever will. I love the perspective on failing! More people need to hear this!

    1. Agreed! Failing can be a great power for success. I had a lot of colleagues feeling down on themselves after a large exam and a lot of us felt like failures. That is why I wrote this post to help remind them that failing is good!

      Also, feel free to share this post with those that need to hear this!

      -FSD

  4. I wholeheartedly agree; some people are so afraid of failure that they never try; I expect a lot of things to fail, so am not too disappointed when things go wrong. Actually, I run my life as a series of test and learns; I try something, evaluate, then revise.

    1. It is sad to see people that have great potential for greatness to be halted by the simple thought of failure. Hopefully, we can help those people overcome this mentality.

      Sounds like your lifestyle is the proper one to live by “try something, evaluate, then revise”. That right there is a great equation for success.

      -FSD

  5. Could not agree more with this. Through my own experience, I find it best to make those financial mistakes as early as possible in life. I have made a few over the last 3 years of getting my financial house in order and still I encourage it. You learn a lot more through those mistakes (taxes, investments, budgeting, etc.) and if you are young they will typically have less of an impact as time moves on. Great article.

  6. So true. So true. We all plant our faces on the turf now and then, including financially. The trick is to know when that crash was because you are a newbie or because you just lack talent in a specific area. Other than in the arts or athletics, such a distinction isn’t always so easy to make. I enjoy your writing and like that you aren’t trying to remain anonymous with this blog. Keep it up!

    1. Properly handling finances is just like any other talent, you can work at it and become better. It just doesn’t seem like a talent for some reason, even though it is.

      Thanks! It is a little difficult to write while in school but when I find some free time I write what I can!

      -FSD

      1. Yes. It’s also odd that people think they can be the Michael Jordan of investing (a sort of genius like Warren Buffett) when they know they can’t come close in the world of sport. Why would you crush the markets if haven’t spent obsessive decades honing that skill? There is a disconnect in that they don’t see it as a learned skill (as you say).

      2. Oh, yeah. And one other thing. The biggest error I see casual investors making is the error of omission. They sit paralyzed forever. This, too, is potentially a mistake (though better than diving in blindly without a clue). Would that be considered a failure? Not sure. Anyway, be well, Doctor Savvy.

  7. Great advice!

    I am currently going through some major “fails” right now in my efforts to learn how to code. I am taking a Coding Boot Camp at university in Washington D.C., and I constantly feel as if I am picking up the material the slowest. It can be frustrating at times, but when you look back on everything you actually have learned in the process, its pretty remarkable. The most successful people in life never became successful through constant success. They needed to fail so that they could learn how to react when failure presented itself in front of them.

    1. That is awesome. I’ve googled a few codes for this blog but never have taken a coding course. I could imagine it would be very difficult. Make one little mistake and the whole code doesn’t work. Good luck with your coding course! Oh, and be constructive with that frustration!

      -FSD

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