Why You Need to Fail

{By Taylor Turner}

Imagine with me, if you will: you have just spent over 800 hours of your life during the past six months studying 5 books that collectively totaled over 1,000 pages.

All detailed information that you will be tested on in a day of two, four-hour sessions of 120 questions each. Now after two months of waiting, the day for results has finally arrived. As the minutes and seconds countdown, thoughts run through your head “Did all this work pay off?”

An email pops into your inbox. You open it.

You begin to read: “We sincerely regret to inform you that your score was not above the minimum passing score.”

How would you respond? Grief? Frustration? Just plain mad?

This is not simply a random, imaginary situation: these feelings of anticipation and failure are something with which many can empathize, especially students. Moreover, this is not a random instance with random numbers I concocted: I found myself in this very situation only a couple weeks ago. Yes, I failed: I did not pass. Yes, it was a let down. And yes, I wish I had passed. But let me tell you something:

At certain points in life, failure may be the best thing you encounter.

how failure is a good thing

Failure is a good thing? Yes, and for very good reasons.

We all have to deal with failure at some point in life. And our culture is more than glad to provide their perspective. But let’s be honest: culture (i.e. main stream thinking) doesn’t have wonderful suggestions in general – and their advice in situations of failure is no exception.

Just take participation trophies, for example. I am not saying they are all bad: they are just all completely and utterly terrible.  I know it’s cute and sweet to see little Johnny with his trophy after playing on the local little league baseball team.  Don’t get me wrong. I’m just as much a sucker for cute kiddos with trophies as the next guy. But it;s not some innocent idea: ideas and actions have consequences. Johnny didn’t win; but even if he did, a trophy for everybody only dilutes the weight of true success.

Culturally, we have postured our attitudes to a “safe” area: we don’t take too much personal risk for fear of messing up. From participation trophies to multi-billion dollar, Wall Street banks that are deemed “too big to fail”, everything is insured from the harsh realities of failing. We don’t like to be told that we failed at something. We really just want everybody to be a winner because hearing the words “you failed” does not make us feel “warm fuzzies” or evoke thoughts of cute puppies (a newborn chocolate lab sleeping on a pillow in front of blazing fire on a cool winter night – yes, that level of cuteness).

 “Experience: the most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” – C. S. Lewis

And the experience of failure is no exception.
You will most assuredly learn discipline and humility – or lack thereof.

I know that I certainly have been shown my lack of humility as a result of my failure(s), but that lesson was all worth it. Your discipline will also be tested: are you going to cowboy up and get ‘er done or just throw a pity party? Failures will draw this out of you more than anything else in life.

This was the biggest test of my life (so far) and I failed.

If you do what everybody else does, which seems to be avoiding failure, you will get what everybody else gets.

Culture is “safe.” This year, take risks: the worst thing that can happen is that you learn, which really is not bad or you might succeed. But beware if you do succeed, you may realize the culture has been dishing you baloney for most of your life.

Your first big failure is only the first step on a life-long journey of invaluable education.

Take risks and create big goals for yourself: you will not regret them . . . and you might just succeed.

Comments

  1. really need to hear this right now. I wrote a response to this article actually with credit to this post http://bluesaladreams.blogspot.com/2015/02/come-on-and-let-me-know.html thanks again.

  2. Thanks so much, Bluann, for the feedback and the mention in your blog post. So glad to here that it was timely and encouraging for you. . . .

  3. Maryann Boho says:

    Awesome Taylor! Loved the article!!

  4. Stephanie says:

    Great article! I can completely relate. Just one question… Are you taking the CPA exam?

    • Stephanie, thanks for commenting and the encouragement! It’s actually not the CPA…. the test I am studying for is the CFA.
      Are you taking the CPA?

      • Stephanie says:

        Oh the CFA… I hear its a beast. Yes, I am taking the CPA exam. I have passed 2 of the 4 exams with many fails in between. Good luck with your tests! Keep us updated and let us know when you pass.

  5. Indeed . . . it is that! Congrats to you – halfway through. Best wishes to you for those two last tests. These tests are such a bear that I am sure I will end up writing something about them again.
    Eyes up,
    Taylor

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