Earning Failure

Failure is inevitable. I call bullshit. It is possible to never really fail. I don’t mean failing to walk at 13 months old, but I mean failing. Taking a real shot at something and failing. Failure can be avoided if you never take a real shot or never do what you “shouldn’t” do. In order to truly fail you have to earn it.

I have always done what I “should” do. Went to college, graduated, went to graduate school and I’m soon-to-be graduated. In between I had setbacks, like partying instead of studying and skipping classes, but in the end, I made it through, did what I should do, what was expected and graduated.

Going to college is not risky. It’s the safe option, and it’s incredibly boring. Why do you think partying is so prevalent in college? Because there is nothing else to do! Half the shit you learn in college is pointless or simply not applicable to the real world.

Despite what I just wrote, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity that I had to go to college and graduate school. Also I do not regret going into debt to get my Master’s degree. I’d rather not have student loans of course, but I’m happy with what I have learned in college; however, I see how easy it is to avoid failure in college — major in the social sciences. That’s it. If you major in a social science, odds are you’ll graduate. For your information, I did a lot wrong and nearly beat the odds.

Moving on…

Now that I am done with college, I have taken my first true risk. In other words, I have done what I “shouldn’t” do, or I’m not taking the conservative approach for once. Here is the background and what I did:

My First True Risk

I worked as of two weeks ago at The Home Depot for three years while I went to graduate school, and from the very first day I started, I felt nothing toward my job. It was just what I did for 40 hours week while I got my degree.

Gradually I became accustomed to working there – the routine, the people, the customers and the erratic hours. I didn’t enjoy what I did, but I didn’t hate it either, so I just floated along with the routine. I grew comfortable with the lifestyle.

My job at The Home Depot was fail-proof. I knew I could keep my job and move up with very little risk or chance of failure. My routines were established by corporate, and it would remain that way, unless I got promoted all the way to CEO. I knew exactly what I had to do to avoid failure.

Meanwhile graduate school was coming to an end, so I had a decision to make — remain at The Home Depot and save money for some passion project sometime in the future, or say “screw it”, cash out my vacation and sick time, throw it all into my own online business and see what happens.

Obviously I chose the “screw it” option. I put in my two weeks. Well not really, I obsessively thought about it for six months, and then mustered up the courage to put in my two weeks.

Now I have everything invested in an ebook that will be released February 1st (more details on this in a few weeks). I don’t know if it will succeed or not, but there is a chance! I have the opportunity to really fail for the first time in my life! There is something about the chance of failing miserably that is exciting! It probably has something to do with the chance of success, but the fear of falling short is what gets the adrenaline going!

Give Yourself the Opportunity to Fail

A few weeks ago I emailed the founder of GetAround, Sam Zaid about dealing with failure, and he said, “If you’re not failing… then you’re probably being too conservative, and not as innovative as you could be.” Consequently I started to think about all the times I failed.

When I tried to think of something that I had failed at, I couldn’t think of anything, but a failed pick-up attempt four years ago. I just kept nervously repeating, “You’re beautiful!” and then walked away without asking for her number because I felt like an idiot.

I used to think a lack of failure was a good thing, but now I see how limiting it is. My ebook may not fail, but I have given myself every opportunity to fail, and I will continue to give myself these opportunities in the future.

“Boring is the enemy, not failure.” – Tim Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek.

3 thoughts on “Earning Failure

  1. Good luck! I’ve been following your blog for a few weeks now and have really enjoyed it so far. Your writing is sharp and humorous, and I like that it is solution-oriented in a very concrete way. Looking forward to the ebook!

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