Charles Fishman, author of One Giant Leap, tells the story of how NASA designed the Apollo lunar module such that it could not be flown through the atmosphere. Which meant it couldn't be tested before going to space. So, every single potential failure with the module had to be investigated and resolved. Problems were therefore seen almost as gifts, because finding them meant they were avoiding catastrophes in space.
Apply this attitude to your own life and be thankful for your failures. Like with the lunar module, these are lessons learned that can no longer blow up at inopportune moments. You want to see the faults in your prototype, not when you mass produce your product and ship it out 100,000 to customers!
Failure is an unavoidable fact of life. But, in every failure there
is an opportunity for growth.
Failure happens. It happens all the time, to everyone, and sometimes can have a bad effect on us depending on the way we react to it. Failure, like many other things, is something we have got used to through the years. To some it has become a lifestyle, an ingrained habit we just can’t break if we don’t have the right mindset.
The greatest example, when it comes down to failure, is the American inventor Thomas Edison, one of the most recognizable names in inventive history. He failed more than 10,000 times before he created the light bulb. These “failures” were, in fact, rigorous experiments in the effort to find the right material for the filament, a process which Edison took in stride but which he noted discouraged his co-workers mightily. These efforts weren’t “failures” in the conventional sense, as is clear to any of us who have perfected a skill through trial and error —whether it’s baking, cooking, building, gardening, or anything else—which is a very different kind of failure than falling flat on your face. Not surprisingly, this observation is backed up by research: In the pursuit of learning or mastery goals, which focus on the acquisition of new skills or learning, setbacks actually increase motivation. Edison appears to have approached the perfecting of the light bulb as a learning goal and, in that mindset, failures actually presented an opportunity for refinement of his ideas.
A summary of the important lessons Thomas Edison wants every generation to learn:
Never give up
Find a better way to do it
Try until you succeed
Learn and improve so that you don’t fail next time
“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed
is always to try just one more time.”