Isn’t that awesome?
Something you’re doing right now is going to screw the pooch in a very New Coke kind of way. It’s inevitable.
In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that this situation isn’t unique. It’s going to happen again. And again. Aaaaaand again.
While not pretty, it’s truth. While not welcomed (by many), it’s necessary.
So today, Your Honor, I’d like to stipulate failure and present opposing counsel with a Bitch Slap.
Conversations about failure run rampant in every sector of the business culture. Startups? Most will fail. Small business? Most will fail. Relationships? Most will fail.
On Sunday morning, I launched my book in Austin, Texas. I had 20 minutes to rile folks up the very morning after Daylight Savings struck us across the face like a cast iron skillet. In the last 10 minutes, I turned the floor over to my audience for questions and one man asked, ” What keeps you up at 4am?”
So what the fuck does that have to do with failure?
It’s the only ingredient that can take it off the table as a factor.
And there are three kinds of people – only three – in this mad calculus proof of failure.
- The Skits: You’re terrified. Everything freaks you the fuck out and makes you skittish. Fear owns (pwns) you. Without fail, you purchase the “additional insurance” at the car rental counter every time.
- Going Halvsies: You’re a starter. You get brilliant ideas and will jump if someone steps on a pistachio shell. You also have 8 zillion unwatched episodes of Whatthefuckever on your DVR that remain unwatched. Because you’re great at starting, just not finishing.
- The Lovers: You’re not just scared — you’re willing to do something about it. In fact, the fear jazzes you like a good go-round with your phone on vibrate in a 20hour long board meeting. You can start the FUCK out of things and not only that, you love the challenge. You love the rocky ass road that is called going through something because it’s the road less traveled. The road around things? Of no interest. It’s through or nothing. And you do it because of love. For your ideas, the feelings throughout the journey, the people you meet along the way. Knowing — ah, and knowing that some of those people you’ll keep as you come out the other side.
And that’s what keeps me up at 4am.
I fucking love failure. What greater gift do we have in business (and life) than knowing exactly what doesn’t work? I’m completely exhausted with the outward lamenting of the Skits and the Halvsies.
I have an idea, but…
Sure, he’s a great guy, but…
I’d love to spend more time with her, but…
This thing’s been nagging at me. I can’t stop thinking about it, but…
Here’s your problem (and I should know, because I used to be Mayor of the Halvsies): When you’re content on letting the word “but” run your life, there isn’t a motherfucking thing that’s going to happen for you. Buts are powered by fear — and oh, don’t you have that in spades?
You’re relegating yourself to Stuck.
How about switching to an “and” instead? Or perhaps even a statement. THOSE are powered by love.
I have an idea, and I’m going to do something about it.
Sure, he’s a great guy. He’s just not for me so I’m going to stop stringing him along.
I’d love to spend more time with her, and I’m going to make that happen.
This thing’s been nagging at me. I can’t stop thinking about it, and I should pay attention to that.
It’s time you stipulated failure already.
There are glorious moments in life and NONE of mine have come from taking the road traveled by the Skits and Halvsies. They come from leaps of faith. Bad fucking decisions. Dumb luck. Years of planning mixed with a heaping dose of real life.
We will jump. We will fall.
So if you could, quit it with the pontification on how failure is some sort of intellectual holy grail and accept that it is. Continuing to elevate failure takes away the richness it adds to every life experience that fills our respective boxes of memories.
For every moment of blinding bliss, there is one attached to it brimming with less-then-awesome.
For every decision we make that is an epic win, there are a plethora that end up filed under “Straight Up Fucked Up” and “What the Hell Did I Do?”
For every person we slip and fall for, we hold out for our version of the Dr. Seuss ideal: “You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”
It’s not rocket science. It’s math. Probability. Statistics. And it’s love that keeps us going.
And I’m one to talk, really. Christ. On the eve of my first book coming, I’m staring a Baskin Robbins-style assortment of potential failure right in the face. So my only two choices?
Run screaming (always good cardio)
Stare it in the face and say, “Come at me, bro.”
Guess which one’s on tap?
So that’s it – you’ve been slapped. You can spend your life arguing with failure or you can stipulate — and get on with the business of love. It’s fucking awesome to be kept awake at 4am by love. Sure as shit, it’s better than being kept up by fear.