Thomas Watson said, “If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.” We as humans do stuff. When we do stuff, sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail. But no matter the outcome, we can always benefit from it. When we succeed at the task at hand we receive whatever benefit we hoped to get from that task: the contract, the sale, the date. When we fail at it, we have an opportunity to learn.
Notice though, that I didn’t say we learn from failure, just that we have the opportunity to learn from it. There is nothing inherently great about failing.
But when you have a healthy attitude about failing, it is not heartbreaking, it does not lower your own sense of worth, it does not devalue you as a person. As long as you are trying and failing, you are growing. And as long as you are growing, you are becoming greater. You are adding value to yourself as a person.
When you fail at something, and life is trying to teach you a lesson, just remember this: A lesson will be repeated until it is learned. Fail once, maybe you can blame it on chance. Fail a second time, maybe the odds just weren’t with you. Fail one thousand consecutive times, you may want to consider changing something. Always keep an eye out for the lesson so that life doesn’t have to keep beating you with that stick to get your attention.
Many people know about the tens of thousands of failed experiments that Thomas Edison went through in the process of inventing the electric light bulb. And, many people have heard about history’s possibly most positive comment when asked if he was dejected or depressed: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Yes, he kept trying. But the key was that he kept trying different things.
Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
So while persistence is admirable, without the willingness to learn and change, we are not exhibiting determination so much as lunacy.