My kids, they’re ages 20, 16 and 12. Since the days my oldest thought I was The Great Oz, I’ve preached a strong message: There is No Use of the F Word in This House.
My youngest and I were playing hoops one afternoon when I blocked a shot. His brow furrowed and he began complaining. “Dad, you can’t do that, it’s not F—.” He stopped. “Dad, it’s not F-A-I-R.” He spelled the one F word I have never allowed. “I didn’t say it Dad, I spelled it,” he said with a grin. A proud moment, I must admit. Regarding fairness, nothing is and nothing ever will be. So let’s get over it.
Failure. It’s hard to admit. In my life? Oh my, let’s see:
- Dadhood. My greatest desire in life was to be a great husband and father. FAIL. I just wrapped up a divorce. My kids are wounded as a result. I’m engaged, available, interested and active in their lives. I love them more than life itself. But I made mistakes. And we all pay the price.
- Perfect PR. I am ambitious, creative and have the temperament that makes me “unique” and “quirky,” per a couple of clients. They qualified the statements, “in a good way …” Yeah. Ha. I strived for perfection for a long time. FYI, if you think you can achieve perfection, find the closest mirror, look at yourself and slap yourself. It ain’t gonna happen on this side of the universe.
- Money. I had a Dad who was extremely smart and wise about finances. He paid for most of my college. I had a car when I was legal to drive. I had more than I even knew. I haven’t been that wise or savvy so my family’s in a different situation, to my chagrin.
And you? Can you admit failure, and learn from it? I can and can’t. Sometimes I avoid the issue. I deny. I dive into work or other things that distract me and keep me away from reality, recognition and admission. It’s like those 12-Steppers and that first step: Admission begins the road to recovery.
I’m sure not excited about failure in my life. And I offer no Pollyanna advice or happy endings. But I do know that without it, I wouldn’t appreciate the triumphs and victories. And yes, I do feel better knowing that success is often bred from failure (thank God). These folks prove it.
- Lincoln failed at politics initially. FYI, he became president.
- Thomas Edison failed – his teachers called him stupid–an idiot who wouldn’t amount to anything.
- Oprah failed. She was fired from her first TV job.
- Walt Disney was called “unimaginative” with no good ideas.
- Steven Spielberg was rejected by USC Cinematic Arts program. Several times.
- Sanders couldn’t get anyone to buy his chicken. And then… yeah.
- Fred Astaire, initially, was told he couldn’t sing or act. No talent.
What’s the point? Failing isn’t always the end of something. It can be the beginning. Usually painful, yes. Life changing? Often. But wholly destructive? Not usually.
So go ahead. Fail. Fall. Mourn. Admit.
And then try again.