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.
“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“.
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.
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”.
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”.
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”.
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”.
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.