We’ve all heard the kick-ass term: “Failure is not an option.” Do you know where the phrase came from?
In preparation for the movie, Apollo 13, the script writers, Al Reinart and Bill Broyles interviewed Flight Dynamics Officer, Jerry C. Bostick to learn what the people behind Mission Control are really like. Bostick said the staff remained calm, and when things went wrong they laid out all their options, and failure was not one of them.
The screenwriters later had a Eureka moment and came up with arguably one of the best movie lines ever: “Failure is not an option.” It’s become the rally cry of athletes, military, heads of businesses and governments, and a myriad of weekend warriors.
But flip this saying a bit, and one realizes: Failure IS an option.
You can always fail. Now yours (and mine) may not be the super critical malfunction of an operating system that potentially leaves men to die in space, but…failing at a job or a career happens.
I spent years searching for the right path to take. I knew down in the dark deep places of my mind what the right path was, but rather than taking that road and risking failure, I chose other paths. Safe paths. Acceptable paths. Financially stable paths.
And I failed.
I wasn’t the deadbeat drop-out kind of failure. I was very good at being a very good diligent worker.
My walk and talk matched. Everything about me projected an honorable gal doing an honest day’s gig for a middle-class wage. And I liked my work and my co-workers. Even one boss, who was enormously gracious and supportive.
Actually, I was a “successful failure.”
Every job I had was wrong for me because it didn’t scratch at the core of who I knew I should be. I’d mastered the fine art of successful failure by taking a career trajectory doomed to crash and burn. It killed me to know it.
You can fail at doing a good job.
You have choices in this world. Sometimes those choices involve risks. Take a chance on you and if you are going to fail, at least fail doing something you love.
When your gut and your heart tell you it’s not right for you, do your best to give yourself a “Get Out” gift. Try doing that thing you are meant to do.
If you fail? So f—g what?
If it doesn’t work out, or it isn’t everything you hoped it would be, go back and do that job again until you retire. I’m betting you won’t do it.
Are you a successful failure?