The London Olympics are now over and, for Australia at least, there has been a lot of soul searching over the perceived failure of some of the Australian athletes.
I’m not a big sports fan but even I found it incredulous that the first question posed to many Australian athletes (particularly the swimmers) after they won silver or bronze was “How disappointed are you?” It got to the stage where our media was obsessed with the shortcomings of our Olympians rather than celebrating the amazing achievement involved in qualifying to even participate.
Though it’s only human nature to focus on winning, the current climate seems to belie the positives that can come from ‘failure’ itself. We hear time and time again of writers and artists as well as athletes whose failures helped drive them to even greater success. But this isn’t something most of us like to admit.
I mean who wants to fail?
Fear of failure is what stymies many of us from reaching for our dreams. It holds us back from taking risks and, when we do fail, there are always plenty of naysayers to crowd around and say “we told you so!”
But – and this is a big but..I’m a strong believer that failure is integral to success. I don’t think there are many successful people out there who won’t have experienced some low point, some kind of failure, that hasn’t made them more resilient and more determined to succeed. Look at Winston Churchill, Walt Disney or Albert Einstein. Look at the initial pile of rejections John Grisham, Stephen King and Dr. Seuss received.
JK Rowling talked about her own failures when she spoke to the graduating class of Harvard in June 2008 saying:
So as a way of throwing off the post-Olympics doldrums here in Oz, I’d like to invite you to submit the best ‘failure to success’ story. It can be your own story, someone else’s story or even one for your favorite bestselling author.
Come on, let’s celebrate failure.