Obsolete Business Proverbs: # 2- “Failure is not an Option”

An important lesson we all must learn when entering the world of work, or at least trying to enter the world of work (present company/economic victims accepted) is that failure greets us all at several junctures in our life. Granted there are the lucky few, who may only have to deal with its icy touch just once or twice in a lifetime, but for most of us – it’s just something we have to learn to live with.

In all facets of our individual existences failure remains a considerably likely occurrence. Whether in the search for a significant other half, a career that we can fully commit ourselves to or the perfect breakfast; we must be prepared to meet failure head-on and come out of the scuffle just as determined and right-minded as we entered it.

With this undeterminably pessimistic or optimistic foreword, it is time to introduce our second superseded business proverb: “failure is not an option”. As you’ve probably figured by now, I for one certainly believe that failure is an option. Not only that, but it should be embraced just as lovingly as the most brazen of successes. Here’s why:

Adding Pressure to a Situation Increases the Likelihood of Failure

It’s as simple as this: loading an unwarranted amount of weight off onto a hapless worker by instilling the absurd perception that the failure of a task is simply unavailable to them as an option is more likely to make them buckle under pressure, than rise to the challenge. What’s more, pressure dramatically (though completely understandably) decreases an individual’s willingness to report any bad news/wrongdoing to their relevant superior, which can obviously then only act to make things worse.

Making Mistakes is what enables us to Learn and Adapt

The only way we’re able to spot, and therefore make an active effort to improve upon our imperfections, is through making mistakes. Regardless of severity, there are few things that make a well-functioning human being step out of the ring and reflect upon their actions (or inactions!), than messing up.

Making a mistake is one of the most natural things a person can do, irrespective of context or eventuality. With this in mind, surely it is not only insensitive, but completely illogical and backwards to instill the idea that failure is completely unacceptable.

In place of this proverb then, shall we have “failing to properly deal with failure is not an option.” Yup, that has a much better ring to it.