Not to make you feel guilty or anything, volunteers, but on Wednesday morning while you’re still lying abed for many’s the long hour, I’ll be up and at’em at BBC HQ, ready for another Thought (I am having Thoughts on a weekly basis these days, it’s quite alarming)
Last week I was Thinking about the whole area of failing well and daring to take risks:
Just over a year ago, I started my own business. It is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. If you know anybody who has started from scratch with their own idea, scrabbled around in the dirt to build something from the ground up – give them a hug today and tell them they’re doing great. I can pretty much guarantee they will need it.
The journey of my first year in business is one that I’m sure is shared by many – a daydream, an idea, some planning, the decision to go for it – lots of excitement and energy and then the bite of reality – red tape, broken promises, long days, sleepless nights.
The monster under the bed of those sleepless nights is one of our most primal fears: the fear of failure. It is a strong monster, a powerful fear. You don’t have to have started a business to feel its sting: if you offer your heart to someone, you risk being rejected; if you make a stand on something you care about, or start turning your daydreams into reality, or try to change the world in even the tiniest of ways, there’s the possibility that you might fail. And therefore there’s the possibility that you won’t even try.
The Harry Potter author JK Rowling recently said, “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well have not lived at all, in which case you’ve failed by default.”
How can we change our culture in Northern Ireland to be better at failing well? We’re a bit dour as a people; watching someone or something fail tends to produce in us a weary shrug and a bit of “I told you so”. We built an unsinkable ship, and it sank. We’re not naturally predisposed to believe that the world can change – or especially, that I can change it. And social media sometimes seems to be set up to enjoy pointing and laughing at every mistake that might go viral with that devastating word “FAIL’
Is there an open door in your life which you might step through today if it wasn’t for the fear of failure? On his way to inventing the lightbulb, Thomas Edison is reputed to have said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Or you can live by my favourite phrase from the American writer and preacher John Ortberg: If you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat…