Success in Failure

March 12, 2019

Falling and picking yourself back up stronger than before

 

 

 

In 1999 NASA arguably made one of its most costly mistakes, over one of the tiniest of errors. NASA lost the 125 million-dollar (US) Mars Climate Orbiter satellite due to NASA employees mixing up the conversion of imperial and metric units. Despite this catastrophic failure NASA would go on to perform three more successful missions to mars after the Mars Climate Orbiter failure.

 

Whilst most people haven’t made a 125 million-dollar mistake, what this story illustrates is that even the geniuses who work at NASA can fail, and from that failure they learnt going on to launch three more successful missions to Mars after deciding only to use metric units for calculations.

 

Now it may seem counter intuitive to state that there is success in failure. Failure by its very definition means that you have not achieved a task. While this statement has some truth, the reality is that, if a person wishes to become a professional in something, they need to make mistakes within that field, or as Winston Churchill colourfully stated:

"If you are going through hell, keep going"

Knowing that one can only become truly successful through failure thus raises the question. How does an Individual turn Failure into success?

 

The answer can be approached in two steps:

 

 

 

 

Learn how to fail

 

When people begin to fail, they go outside what is called their comfort success zone (Image 1). The zone is a place were an individual has guaranteed success. Many people will stay within this zone as they feel safe, and if they reach the edge of it where failure lies, many will turn back and not bother going beyond the zone.

 

What happens to the people who remain within this comfort success zone, is that whilst they may be having persistent success, they are arguably failing to achieve great success, in the long term. 
Once a person learns how to leave their comfort success zone, they can then begin the process of achieving long term productive success by learning from their failures.

 

Image 1 (Source: https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/successful-failure-6813)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turning failure into success

 

It took Thomas Edison a 1000 tries before he developed a successful lightbulb prototype. When he unveiled his invention, a reporter asked Edison how it felt to fail 1000 times. In response to this Edison claimed that he didn’t fail, but that the lightbulb was an invention that had a 1000 steps. This sentiment mirrors how one turns failure into success by reaching the new success zone (image 2). 

 

In order to reach the new success zone an individual must continue to push through failure and be prepared to keep failing until they finally succeed. Breaking through the failure and achieving the new success is very difficult to accomplish. Achieving a new success requires an individual to exhibit a resilient, positive attitude to help them power through each failure to reach a new success.

 

Image 2 (Source: https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/successful-failure-6813)

 

 

 

 

 

 

As human beings we all make mistakes, even the most skilled of us like those that work at NASA. What separates individuals that accomplish great things from those that don’t is their ability learn from their failure and continually try again. It is only through going outside are comfort zone and driving through failure can an individual truly achieve success.

 

 

 

 

References 
https://www.success.com/why-failure-is-good-for-success/
https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/successful-failure-6813
https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/qkvzb5/the-time-nasa-lost-a-mars-orbiter-because-of-a-metric-system-mixup
http://edition.cnn.com/TECH/space/9909/30/mars.metric.02/
https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mars/missions/index-past.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

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