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Mistakes Versus Failure

mistake versus failure

❝Don't fear failure. Fear being in the exact same place next year as you are today.❞ -unknown

I'm standing up with a little help from my mom, whose hands are underneath my arms. It's 1980, and I'm about to take my first step. I reach my right foot out and put my weight on it. Everybody goes crazy with cheers! I've hit the milestone; I've taken my first step! I’m feeling ten feet tall and bulletproof.

Unfortunately, things don't go so well on my next step. With my weight on my right foot, I reach out to put my left foot down and fall right on my face. I start crying as my mom tries to comfort me. Not only does it hurt falling on my face, but I get embarrassed because I can't walk. Everybody around me walks. I start to think there is something wrong with me.

I keep trying. Eventually, I'm able to walk two steps, then five steps, but most of the time, I have to hold onto a coffee table or a couch to keep my balance. Everybody seems to cheer, but I know that they're judging me for not being able to do what they've been able to do for decades.

It's frustrating. I don't like failing. I get the sense that this walking thing just isn't for me. I tell myself it's time to throw in the towel.

Fortunately, I have a very supportive mom who convinces me to keep at it. She tells me I didn't fail at walking; I just simply made some mistakes. These mistakes are necessary for me to learn what works and what doesn't work. I eventually go on to walk like an adult, and I even learn to run.

I learned a valuable lesson. I learned that making a mistake is not the same thing as failing. It would have been a failure to give up on walking because I couldn't figure it out right away. Mistakes, on the other hand, helped me learn how to walk.

(I hope this goes without saying, but I do not remember 1980 nor taking my first steps.)

making mistakes and trying again


Many people fear failure in large part because they confuse making a mistake and failing. Making a mistake is normal and part of the learning process. It's only a failure if you don't try. Nonetheless, the fear of failing and the fear of making a mistake prevent people from trying anything new. It seems many people have an unhealthy relationship with embarrassment.

fear of failure