In July I read the book The Art of Power by Thích Nhất Hạnh, and in one part of the book it said to ask yourself if you’re capable of giving something your best effort. This reminded me a lot of discussions about failure, and it made me think if we aren’t wasting a lot of time by focusing on failure.
Why Do We Talk About Failure?
When sharing stories of failure in the startup community first started it was a fresh, counter intuitive way of sharing lessons learned from real experiences, directly from the leaders who had them.
As it got more popular, attitudes towards it from some groups turned toxic. Lots of people started writing about what real good the focus on failure stories does.
There may be a lot of good that’s done when people tell stories to help others not to make the same mistakes they did. Whatever the case may be, there’s a better approach.
Let’s Talk About Best Effort
Everyone knows what failure looks like, but I don’t think many people have as good an idea what it’s like to give something everything you have.
Instead of telling stories about failure, lets hear stories from the people who put everything they had into going after a goal. It could be related to their jobs, their relationships, or their personal goals.
Let’s change the purpose from promoting ideas about failure, to helping others improve their ability to do something the best they can. It’s a better message to spread than talking about avoiding (or embracing) failure, and I think will do a better job of helping more people.
Where the two overlap is that when you give your best effort, you open yourself up to failure. For example, if you just do your job but you don’t really love it and don’t really try, as long as you keep that job, you won’t care what happens. As soon as you start putting a lot of effort into it and trying the best you can, you’re going to feel it when you let people down and fail.
It’s too much of a challenge to be able to say you want to get people comfortable with the idea of failure, and help them to overcome their fear of it. Let’s instead get people passionate on being able to put 100% of themselves into what they do. Success or failure, fear or no fear.
There are many ways to fail, but there’s only one way to give it your best shot.