Remember that Failure is Your Friend

Admit it, there have been times when your life could have been the subject of a bad country song: you lost your true love, your dog, and your truck. Everything went wrong.

You tried your best, and you failed. 

And I bet someone made fun of your failure. Maybe it was a friend trying to bust your stones a bit, or an enemy trying to break you down. Or maybe you came down hard on yourself. A lot of the time, we’re our own worst critic.

Forget all that noise. Because when someone makes light of another’s failure, it just means they’re scared. Scared of their own potential for failure. And that fear keeps them from ever trying to accomplish anything significant in life.

The Atychiphobia Epidemic

There’s a subculture of “failure fear” in this world. Evidence of this can be seen in the never-ending tide of “epic fail” images generated as part of an Internet meme. As if failing wasn’t hard enough, we had to start calling it epic. We had to start “fail shaming” each other online. The result: too many people paralyzed, unable to take action toward their goals for fear of instantaneous electronic ridicule.

Here’s the truth: failing is suppose to suck. It’s supposed to hurt. It’s the pain that’s meant to motivate us.

But there’s a disease called “atychiphobia” (pronounced “ah-ticky-fo-be-ah”) that’s spreading. We’re taught to avoid failure at all costs—in school, in the workplace, and even in our personal lives.

We’re so afraid of failure that we lie to ourselves about the true nature of success. Ready for more truth? Success is born from the interplay of our triumphs and our failures. There is no success without failure.

The Price of Avoiding Failure

What’s the price we pay for our atychiphobia? The failure “taboo” contributes to the lack of innovation and creativity we hear about in the news these days.  So why do we insist on forgetting that failure and success are inextricably linked? Fear of ridicule, fear of being shamed. We need to remember that letting ourselves fall for these fears strangles us.

If you don’t take risks, and set yourself up for the potential for failure, then how can you make that next discovery, that leap to the next big idea or invention? We can’t be afraid of taking chances.

You are not Bruce Willis

Despite what you may believe, you probably don’t routinely face life-or-death, make-or-break decisions on a daily basis. But very often we don’t take things into perspective, and turn the events of our lives into high-stakes situations. It’s often the fear of failure that makes us overestimate the importance of every decision.

bruce-willis-armageddon-340x300Listen, you’re not in that Armageddon movie where Bruce Willis has one shot to destroy the asteroid before it hits the earth. When faced with choice that’s stressing you out, take a step back and check if you’re seeing things in black and white when you should be seeing a rainbow of possibilities.  

Ask yourself: are you avoiding the pursuit of a dream because of fail-fear? If you are, it’s time to work on releasing that negativity. When it comes to your life, failure is ALWAYS an option. Because failure is part of the ongoing experiment we call life. We are here to test, stretch, and explore the possibilities of this world.

Rough Drafts of Reality

I want to change your perception of failure: start thinking of your life as an iterative process. You’re the writer of your story, and any author will tell you that all good writing starts with a series of rough drafts.

When you’re pursuing a dream or goal, maybe you’ll need just a couple drafts to get things right. Or maybe you’ll need a dozen. It doesn’t matter. What DOES matter is the effort, the perseverance, the determination to keep going and get to that final version of whatever you want to create.

If you try and fail, at least you tried. That’s more than a lot of other people can say. And there is no cosmic statute of limitations in the universe that says you can’t try again.

But if you don’t make the attempt in the first place, you will definitely fail.

I’m not saying that you should go actively seek failure. Rather, failure is a by-product created by someone who is actively working toward a goal.

So go for it, whatever “it” is for you. Ignore all the doubts thrown at you by naysayers and the inner critic in your own head.

Get out there and start failing. It’s the best way to succeed.

Author: Anthony Simeone

I'm a writer, speaker, and an advocate for everyday heroism. I have over two decades of experience in the practical application of literature, philosophy, psychology, and other disciplines. The culmination of my work is the Live the Hero program, a life philosophy that promotes personal development combined with service to others. Live the Hero combines the wisdom found in the arts and humanities with the latest discoveries related to research in heroism science and positive psychology. You can learn more at

8 thoughts

  1. Hey Anthony,
    Great stuff….it’s Steve from the Emerging Speakers Bureau. Your points about failure are spot on. I’d like to share a short passage from a speech by Theodore Roosevelt; I keep it on my wall in the office and read it every day:

    “It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of good deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena – whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood – who strives valiantly – who errs and comes up short and short again – who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause. Who, at best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement – and who at worst, at least fails while daring so greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know either victory nor defeat.”


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Steve! That’s also one of my favorite quotes, I carry it around with me in various forms! It’s a necessary reminder today as it must have been in Teddy’s time. There have always been critics, it seems. They must serve a divine purpose: to push the “doers of good deeds” and motivate them to succeed! I for one can relate to being motivated by naysaying!


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