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Perspective: Fail Your Way To Success


Forty years ago, John Wayne showed the world what “True Grit” looked like. Grit is all about passion and perseverance as we work towards goals that matter -- even in the face of delays, setbacks, obstacles, and barriers. 


While grittiness has its drawbacks in some circumstances, it can be important to keep from letting failure shape your perspective. In fact, a recent study of early career faculty revealed that perseverance in the face of early failure can boost overall career success. Getting that major grant early in your career might actually lead to less productivity over time. 


In many cases, meeting with early failure can actually serve as the challenge we need to work smarter or harder to prove our mettle and achieve the goals that matter most. 


Some people call this “failing forward.” And that’s what our natural inclination tends to be when we’re young. 


Think about watching a young child learn to walk. They’ll take a few spills along the way, but once they figure out the whole balance thing and start working towards independent locomotion, they aren’t going to give up until they’ve got it mastered. Bumps and stumbles just turn into fuel for their fire. That’s “failing forward.” 


So, how do you respond to failure when you’re working towards a goal that you’re hungry to achieve? Are you the kind of person who lets obstacles in your path become spanners in the works that totally “grind your gears?” Or do you take failure as a challenge that transforms into fuel you use to “rev your engine?” Life’s too short to spend it spinning your wheels -- learn to fail forwards! Even if you falter, you’re still moving ahead and getting closer to your goal. 


I’m Suzanne Degges-White and that’s my perspective. 


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