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One of my favorite quotes comes from the famous former leader of Great Britain, Winston Churchill. I think he was onto something when he said: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”

Many people have a negative connotation of the word “failure” because as humans, we naturally strive for success. However, failure can be more than an undesired result that causes guilt, anger or frustration. Failure can have value. 

Don’t get me wrong, failure can be a tremendous negative. Whether it’s a failing grade in a class, failing to report to work on time, or failing people that depend on you, there are some types of failure everyone should avoid. With that said, when these types of unacceptable failures occur, the best way to handle them is to learn from the mistake and strive to not repeat it, because that is the only potential positive that can come from the situation.

The times that it is truly okay to fail, however, are those times when you are taking a chance at success. In my opinion, doing nothing is more of a failure than trying to do something and failing. Taking chances is a huge part of what gets you somewhere in life, whether this risk is applying for a position or asking out the girl/guy that you find attractive. This is because if you fail, you not only learn, but that chance you took also opened up an increased opportunity for success the next time around. When you fail, you move on having a better notion of how to succeed; every chance you take allows you to know where to take your next chance, as you build your path to success

Amy Edmondson, a well-known professor from Harvard University, wrote a piece explaining this belief. She believes “failure is not always bad” even though misguided people can interpret it that way. She also says that taking the blame when you are responsible is critical. As she puts it, “In actuality, a culture that makes it safe to admit and report on failure can—and in some organizational contexts must—coexist with high standards for performance.”

Everyone fails. It is an inevitable part of life, but when you fail after taking a chance, failing is okay. It makes you tougher, more experienced and more apt to succeed. While failure can be negative, when you have tried your hardest to succeed, and you have taken a calculated chance at success, failing becomes a small blimp on the radar guiding you to success.