Failing: Why Stigmatized?

pink atlantic sunrise failing christian lautenschleger
pink atlantic sunrise failing christian lautenschleger
This sunset isn’t failing.

Want to know who doesn’t fail? People who don’t want to try anything new. People who don’t leave their comfort zone. People who live with regret. Failing quintessentially divides people into two camps: Are we willing to try something, that may better ourselves and those around us; or do we want to play it safe, stay in our bubble, and never take a chance?

I’m not sure when “failing” became a thing. It sounds like some sort of American paradox: the people who moved America failed over and over, yet we expect perfection that prevents people from even trying because they’re worried that they may fail. Go figure.

What does failing mean? It means taking chances, get out of comfort zones, and perhaps do something to advance society. We don’t advance as human beings unless people take chances. It’s too easy to live our lives “safely” within the comfort of what’s familiar to us. Don’t say “good effort” sarcastically — say it like the person gave it her all. Deep down, we all wish we had tried.

Why do we stigmatize failing? The people who fail the most are ostensibly the most persistent. Eventually, they get it right. It can be small — like finally figuring out that Christmas cookie recipe, or big — you just got a Fortune 500 company off the ground. Persistence is one of the most tell-tail signs of the successful person. Why? Because we usually don’t get it right the first time. We have to try, try, and try again to get it right. Persistent people don’t know how to quit. They keep on going.

Calling people “failures” prevents not only those people from trying again, but prevents others from trying in the first place. If failure is stigmatized, do we, ourselves, want to be stigmatized? Social pressure could prevent someone from fostering something that could be very impactful. If it’s better to have loved and lost than to have ever loved at all, wouldn’t it be better to try then fail than to have never tried at all?

As with most negativity we see in our everyday lives, the root cause comes from the source and not us. At some point we have to start to wonder if those who criticize failing, like a jaded peaked-in-high-school-Rob-Lowe, do so because they don’t have the courage to do it themselves. A good rule-of-thumb when listening to someone is remembering that what they say comes from their own worldview. The same extends to quips on failing. It’s not about you, it’s about them.

“Trying is the first step toward failing,” Homer Simpson. Homer is right, but there’s a world out there once we leave the comfort of our homes, thoughts, and ideas. What can you do today to make it happen?