The best advice I ever received was, “I hope you fail".
By Talia Murchie
I can firmly remember my mother saying, “Better luck next time”, with the feeling of complete failure closing in on me. I was six, and I had lost my first foot race. Better luck next time, was a definitely a term of reassurance to a small child, but from a young age it is drilled into our character - that to fail, means to do terribly. If you are failing, you are doing wrong, and disappointing. Losing that foot race was a small event to endure, (over the course of my existing life) but I remember how I felt like it was yesterday. I had done the wrong thing.
Fast forward to junior, and senior high school where I struggled relentlessly in any mathematical course. Simple mathematical equations would take me all evening to study, I needed a tutor, and I often became frustrated, to the point of giving up. My grades reflected this. Coming from a family with a father as an engineer and a brother who is an analytical genius, I felt ridiculed for not doing well in these courses. Handing in report cards to my parents was accompanied by the feeling of complete dread. The courses I excelled in (English, art, and dance), were deemed non-essential. Struggling, and sometimes failing through high school made me view myself as a lesser human being.
Reflecting back on high school, post graduation, moving cities, new jobs, new relationships - there was always the trend of viewing failure as loss, disappointment, and inadequacy. It was not until my second year of university that I began to view failure as something that is essential to the progression of a human being.
“Fail forward”. This is a term I have become increasingly familiar with through my innovation and entrepreneurship minor. Amongst the entrepreneurial community, it is praised, and even applauded when you fail. When you fail, for the most part, you learn. You learn what not to do - which is essential in building a business. However fail forward can be applied to other aspects in one’s life, it does not apply exclusively to entrepreneurs. When I think of failing in school, my first (and automatic) response is fear, but my second response (now, after some practice) is determination. If I am not doing well in something, I become critical of it, and think to myself, ‘Alright, what is not working’. From this thought process, I will try something different in order to progress. However, if I am not doing well in something, and I know I am doing my best, it is not as stressful to me as it would have been back in high school. I will never be amazing at finance, and that is fine. In my family, it is obvious my brother will be the one getting the CFA designation. However, failing, and all the learning that comes along with it, has lead me down the path of owning my own business.
So my conclusion is this; I hope you fail. I hope you fail many times over, and over, and over again. I say this, because this is the best advice I have gotten throughout my career. You learn by doing, not by playing it safe. So go out, and fail.