The Bitch Slap: Just Fucking Fail Already

stipulate failure bitch slapYou’re going to fail.

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?”

My answer?

Love.

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)

or

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.

34 comments
Scarlet
Scarlet

I needed these slap.  I also think about this way  - do you want to leave a legacy of fear or a legacy of love?  And if we lead each day with 'what if' or 'but' then we're leaving behind fear.  The road to happiness is about getting up each day and thinking 'What do I want to love today?' and then making that a reality. 

Rob Thomson
Rob Thomson

Great Post...one of my favorite quotes:  "People do not decide to become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things." -- Sir Edmund Hilary

kkhm
kkhm

Excellent Post!

Ekelly68
Ekelly68

Received a stellar compliment today. My cousin sent me the link to this blog and said "I was certain you had written this". Love, One of the "The Lovers"  Fantastic read. 

Jessica
Jessica

This was perfect timing for me, Erika--I've been looking at the way that failure in business is actually kinda fun for me (not necessarily *entirely* fun, but fun in a "huh, that didn't work, let's try something new!" way) but that I avoid failure outright in so many other areas of my life. I'll try anything to keep from calling uncle on a certain relationship, for instance. And I've been thinking about why business failure feels like no big deal, but relationship failure feels awful. I realized that, for me, what keeps me stuck in fear is worry that I'm giving up too soon. In business, that's no big deal--maybe I *am* giving up on this project too soon, but I've got this fabulous new idea that I'm excited about. But giving up on people... That's harder for me. Thanks to your post, I see that I can change my perspective, ala your "He's a great guy *and*..." example. Thank you!

Martin Taggart
Martin Taggart

Terrific blog, reposted on FB, shared with hundreds in my referral circle...You rock, keep up the great work!

Jackie
Jackie

Take fucking action! Fall on your face! Get up and do that shit again! I LOVE it.

JillianPaige
JillianPaige

I love that your use of the F word does not take away at all from the blazingly correct points you make. Failure is the hole in the net under our tightropes.  But...WHO DIDN'T WANNA JOIN THE CIRCUS? I know I still want to be one of those girls that flies through the air on the ribbons.

Heather
Heather

Thank you, Erika!!  Starting over has been scary, hard, and FULL of halvsies!!  Thanks for a much needed kick in the ass!!!  

Laurel
Laurel

Thanks! I needed that!!

Rebecka
Rebecka

I needed me a good slappin' today and I love anybody strong enough (who is NOT a punkass teenager) to use 'fucking' in the headline. So powerful.

Don Rosenthal
Don Rosenthal

Can't get enough of your writing...more, more...

Tim Lewis
Tim Lewis

Failure is nothing but opportunity in disguise, especially in the Corporate Community...Someone else, or some other group or department fails at something, that's nothing but opportunity for me and my crew to come in save the day and accumulate tons of billable hours baby!...This posting reminded me so much of "Love is the Killer App" by Tim Sanders, so I was wondering how much, if at all, you were influenced by it?... ;-)

rita
rita

THIS is more than freaking awesome.  I cried at the end..WHILE I was laughing!!!  I AM A LOVER!  DAMMIT!  A LOVER!

John
John

Uber pwnage. : ) Great post, great life reminder to KEEP ME ON TRACK right now. Luckily for me, I've got a — bad case of lovin' me going on right now. Feeling the fear, and fucking it up anyway. Read a great little positive affirmation the other day, "on the other side of your fear lies your dreams". True dat. COME to Butthead...

Donna Eaton
Donna Eaton

Never needed a slap like I need that one! OUCH! Love it!

Emily Merkle
Emily Merkle

Lover here. There are two catch phrases I am living and failing by this week: Bring It Just Do It

melgallant
melgallant

I'm a Going Halvsies learning to be a Lover (wait...that doesn't sound right). Well, you know what I mean. Thanks for the kick in the pants. :)

Tommy Rector
Tommy Rector

You fucking SLAY me, Erika!  Loved the new post.  You are the only blogger I read who will go there...

JosephRatliff
JosephRatliff

Living life without a net. I like to go into a serious "worst case" thought process.  If you "take that risk", what is the worst that could happen? If it doesn't end up in death... you're still alive, and can rebuild whatever MIGHT be lost by failure. And guess what?  The best part is... 90% of the time it doesn't end up as bad as you think it will (not even close). Great post Erika.

Stacey Hood
Stacey Hood

^ is a lover & loves a good fight! 

Tea Silvestre
Tea Silvestre

On behalf of lovers everywhere (who are sick of hearing the "buts") I thank you. Sharing with a few luck halvsies now...

Annie
Annie

That was surely the slap I was aching for.  Sure as shit. ;-)

Cab
Cab

Halvie turning Lover… Sometimes you have to leap before seeing where you’ll land. 

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