My daughters all went to college-prep private schools. These schools were great. Academically the school was tops, in fact over 91% went on to four-year institutions.
They also produced a number of National Merit Scholars. Pretty amazing, especially when recruiting new students.
But I did have one problem with this school. It didn’t have to do with academic rigor, but with a philosophical and religious doctrine. This doctrine directed everything, including their motto.
Do you know what the school’s motto is? “Non Excidet”. At every school play, sporting event, graduation, and other ceremony, the administration led the students in the school song, which of course included, the latin “Non Excidet”.
Yeah, I didn’t know the meaning either. Not until following a school graduation that I finally asked one of my daughters to describe this to me. With a roll of her eyes, she said, “Dad, seriously?” She finally said, “We will not fail!”
Now, you can think these high standards are commendable. And they are. But should we expect our children, or even more importantly, ourselves not to accept failure at all? Let’s explore this more.
Should You Fail?
It’s not so much failure that is the problem. It’s the fear of failure. Why is this important? Failure can be, and if responded to correctly, is a terrific learning tool.
Remember one of the key Success Principles learnings from Jack Canfield is “E + R = O”. This concept is adopted from psychologist Albert Ellis through his cognitive behavioral psychological theory of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT).
So ok, how does this apply to failure? The event (the “E” above) doesn’t and shouldn’t determine your “O” (the outcome or finished product). It’s the “R”, the response! You may fail but you can then choose: do you want to learn, and try again? Or do you throw your hands up and stop? It’s a choice. It’s your choice how to respond!
Most of us have seen some pretty famous examples of failure:
Light Me Up
Thomas Edison reportedly conducted and failed at over 2,774 experiments before he found success in discovering a workable light bulb filament. Edison said he didn’t fail 700, or 1,000 or even 2,000 times. He said he only succeeded in proving that those experiments didn’t work, and was one step closer to an answer.
Babe Ruth – the famous baseball home run king – had more strikeouts than homeruns. His “R”? Keep swinging!
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th elected U.S. President, failed numerous times. He was fired from jobs, failed in business – twice, lost his love to an illness, and lost eight elections, among others. What did he do? Went on to become one of the most influential Presidents in history.
But have you heard of these “failures”?
As a fledging artist, Walt Disney could not be hired. His brother helped him get a temporary job. Walt then started his first animation studio, which soon went bankrupt. Today Walt Disney Studios generates over $40 Billion yearly.
On two occasions Steven Spielberg applied to the USC School of Film. Both times he was rejected. His films have since grossed over $85 billion. And USC awarded him an honorary doctorate, and appointed him a University Trustee.
After his drawings were rejected by his high school yearbook, Charles Schultz went on to create “Peanuts”, with Charlie Brown and Snoopy. A statue of Snoopy now sits in the high school office.
I used to tell my daughters to fail. I wanted them to fail. Why would I do this? It’s so much easier to learn how to fail, and respond to failure, when we’re younger. We are pretty resilient at 14 years old. And, the failures aren’t usually as devastating.
No, of course I didn’t tell them to intentionally fail. I always wanted them to try their best each and every time. Don’t fail intentionally when you’re not really trying. But try hard, and if you fail, then you’ll know how to pick yourself up, dust off, and go at it again. That is a true measure of success.
“Do you want to be safe and be good, or do you want to take a chance and be great?”
Jimmy Johnson – Coach who, after only winning one game in his first year as head coach in 1989, led the NFL Dallas Cowboys to two consecutive Super Bowl championships in 1992 and 1993.
It’s much harder to fail as an adult, don’t you think? The outcomes can be much harder, and in some cases devastating: Job loss when you have bills to pay and a family to support; relationship ends and you don’t know why; social pressure of failure.
But, even as an adult we can fail, and do wonders toward achieving success. Get into “optimal anxiety”. Move forward toward your goals, even when you’re uncertain. You will feel off balance. Others will tell you play it safe. But this “optimal anxiety” will motivate you toward success.
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”
Robert F. Kennedy, Former U.S. Attorney General and U.S. Senator
Are you afraid to move forward? Many years ago I was also. I measured, planned, thought out, prayed, sought out opinions from family and friends, researched, and talked about incessantly. But you know what? Many of those times I did nothing. And what did I get? Nothing!
It wasn’t until I shot that I starting hitting my targets. Only until I took action did I start to get results. I did, and my daughters did also. You can and will get results too!
Remember, I don’t want you to think “Non Excidet”. Know that you likely will fail. But success comes when we will learn from these events and move forward!
Successful people – winners – take action! Be action oriented! Get in the game and play! Take calculated risk! Get out of your comfort zone! Grow into “optimal anxiety”! Do it now!
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
I want YOU to fail! If you are having difficulties taking action, reach out to me today for real tools of success.