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Failure is your Friend

We often time fear failure. We shouldn’t. Failure is our friend, it is what makes success possible.

Here’s the alternative to failure. Doing nothing. Being stuck. Not moving forward. The very fact that we fail means we’re moving forward, we’re learning the lessons we need to learn in order to create success.

When I was a freshman in college, I set the goal to become the president of a campus club by the time I graduated. For me, that was a very high-reaching goal.  I was extremely shy.  I had an extremely hard time talking in front of people.  I knew very little about leadership and even less about people.  When I joined my fraternity, I was in awe of the guy who could simply stand in front of us pledges and teach a class about the fraternity.

Over the years in college, I took on various roles, in different campus organizations. Learned about people. Learned about leadership. Read leadership books. Went to a week long leadership workshop. Got myself elected in various roles, up to Treasurer and Secretary.

By the time I was a junior in college, I decided to start my own club. It was a Mars Society Club. I was excited. I recruited one guy to help me out. We went out to start the club. It flopped. I failed at starting it.  After a while, I let it go.

At the beginning of my senior year in college, I decided to run for the office of president of the Computer Science Club (I was a Computer Science major). I felt I had the experience to be president.  Another guy however ran for president.  He won the election. I settled for vice-president. It was still a step up, but it wasn’t my ultimate goal of being president before I graduated.   I had failed, for now, to achieve that goal.

I remember thinking “Well, if I can’t get myself elected president, I’ll just start my own club and become its president.”

Yet, I had failed the previous year in starting a club, right? That was ok, I felt. I sat down and analyzed my failure in starting that Mars Society club. What did I do that worked well? (I had recruited one guy after all, so I had done something right). What did I do that was wrong, and what would I do different? I came up with a list of things to do different. The first thing I decided was to get outside support. I wanted to start a Campus Libertarian Club, so I figured the first thing I would do would be to approach the local Libertarian Party and see if they could help us. They did!

I teamed up with a buddy of mine, and together we recruited more people.   We had a glorious time.  We held a number of events, invited speakers from out of town to speak to our club. We held a debate featuring local political candidates from different political parties, which was featured in the local campus newspaper.  The campus newspaper put a picture of me on the front page of the newspaper as a result of another event we did.  Four of us officers took an out of town trip to Atlanta to celebrate Election night with the Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate Harry Browne.   And of course, I was elected president of the club. I had finally achieved one of my all-important college goal.

We had an amazing experience with that club.  Yet, we wouldn’t have achieved this had I not tried and failed to start the Mars Society Club. The lessons I learned from that failure were incredibly important in setting up the success of starting the Campus Libertarians. Likewise, had I succeeded in becoming President of the Computer Science Club, I wouldn’t have started the Campus Libertarian Club. I would have missed out on so much. I am actually grateful that I failed in that bid to become the President of the Computer Science club, because I got a much more valuable, and much more enriching experience with starting and leading the Campus Libertarians.

We need to remember that failure is our friend. It helps us move forward. We need to embrace failure, mine it for all of the gold that we can get out of it.  That very gold is what leads to success.

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