Cheering for Failure

In the 1960’s during the boom of the space exploration, NASA wanted to encourage their engineers to take more risks in order to push the program forward.  How did they do this? When an unmanned rocket exploded at take off, mission control would applaud.  They applauded to announce: it didn’t work, but you tried.  And trying deserves praise.  And that praise kept the engineers from being consumed by the fear of failure or lack of success.  And the space program leaped ahead of the rest of the world in its advancements.

 Stephen King spent years writing and being rejected before finding success.  Each time he submitted work and was rejected, he tacked the rejection letter on a nail he had placed on his wall for that purpose.  When he had more rejection letters than could fit on the nail, he replaced the nail with a railroad spike.  And he kept writing.  Nailing the rejection letters above his writing desk instead of throwing them away was a way of cheering his failure.  It acknowledged that he had tried and that the effort was worthy in itself.

 When we take risks, whether in our art, business, or personal life, we risk failure.  And we will fail more than we succeed.  And those failures will lead to success—failing is the only path to success.

 So get out there and fail.  And fail again.  And each time your rocket explodes, pat yourself on the back and give yourself a standing ovation.  You’ve earned it.