Dear Daughter, it’s OK to Fail
A letter to my daughter in response to her struggling on a Math test yesterday.
Dear Daughter — I know you think failure is bad, but let me tell you a little secret. We all fail, a lot. If you don’t believe me…
I’ve written articles that only one person has read and even on some of the ones that have taken off, your guess is as good as mine as to why. I’ve sent important emails with misspellings and typos, mostly because I was too lazy to look twice.
I’ve bought stocks that suddenly tanked, and I’ve sold stocks minutes before they went high. I’ve wasted countless money on flash-in-the-pan hobbies and ideas.
I know you think I’m great in business, but I sometimes have no idea what I am doing in sales. I’ve been rejected by more people than accepted. Heck, I decided to write some code today and I spent over an hour fighting something that someone in your computer class probably knows — and I am considered a thought leader by some in technology. I thought the iPhone was a gimmick in 2007.
You have seen some of my paintings right? And my dad jokes..and heard my lectures? And, this may surprise you, but I wasn’t always super focused either. I had to drop a few college classes.
But here is the thing, I’m going to keep failing. In fact, I’m busting my little butt off each day to fail more because I learned long ago that failure can be a great life lesson, and motivator, and sometimes, for somethings, you need failure to improve. Failure sometimes sets important boundaries and edges. You will understand this as you get older. You will also learn that most of the truly neat things in the world lie on the other side of possible failure.
I know you see all the successes out there in the world. Your feeds are full of what appears to be super talented people making awesome videos on Tik Tok flying to Paris on the weekends. These people seem to have lives full of successes right? Why is it that you are the only one who struggles?
Because you are not.
Always remember that for every great song, that same singer had dozens of terrible ones. The same for famous writers, and actresses, and just about everyone with any long-term success. You just don’t see those failures, and that is an important lesson.
If you try things long enough, really hard things, you will fail. Everyone does and if they don’t, they are either incredibly lucky, gifted by the DNA gods, or just plain out lying and no matter which of the three they are, just ignore them. You are my daughter, so you will have to work for your rewards. I would be sad if you were born ultra-talented or a billionaire, what fun would that be?
Success is like an iceberg in a way. Everyone takes pictures and talks about the pretty top, but underneath that top lies miles and miles of dark, frozen, harsh ice. It took that iceberg time to build up and while it did, there were all sorts of sacrifices and failures along the way.
You learned about friction in school, and in a lot of ways, that is all failure is — a little friction on your path to success. It will slow you down, and generate some heat, but it’s only a failure if you give up, or don’t learn from it. If you do learn from it, it’s just the tuition of life, and that, you will see, is usually worth the pain. Remember, without friction, a gemstone is just a stupid little rock.
So take this failure and learn from it. Get better next time, no matter how long next time is. Let the failure motivate you, but not deter you.
And if you need a partner to fail with, take a walk to my office over here, you will find someone failing frequently, but having a whole lot of fun doing it.
Originally posted on my daily newsletter. https://shakethebull.substack.com/p/dear-daughter-its-ok-to-fail