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failure
fear of failure
vantage point
screeching halt
swoop
awe
cowboys
rope
Failure A Great Option
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Failure A Great Option

Can an ole cowboy in the southwest become an innovative change consultant? What about becoming an online entrepreneur?

A couple of things come to mind here. First, let's talk about failure and what it is and what it is not.

I could state the Webster's definition here, but why do that! Everyone knows what a failure is, right? Instead of that boring definition, let me use an example here.

As a young and aspiring cowboy, I wanted to learn how to ride bulls. At an early age I was fascinated by the bravery and skill of cowboys that came to our local rodeo. I was in awe! How can a man stay on that 2,000+ lbs of raw and untamed strength? And the rider was only allowed to use a single hand under a rope that went around the belly of the beast to secure him onto the beast's back! The other hand, I learned later gave the cowboy balance as the bull wildly rocked and bucked around the arena.

Fear of failure was never an issue with me. I started small, because I knew I couldn't get up on a fully grown bull and expect to stay alive! So I started my bull riding career on a fairly tame steer of about 500 lbs. He was even halter broke. I thought that would make it all that much easier. Little did I know, that steer really didn't like someone sitting on his back!

In one fell swoop, that steer shifted his weight, kicked up his rear feet like a mule, and quite expertly put me on the ground. There I lay, looking up at the sky. From my vantage point, I knew I had been whooped! I failed!

My bull riding career came to a screeching halt! I no longer had the desire to continue as a bull rider. Failure was my only option.

Now that brings us to the difference between failures and mistakes.

Failure is when you try something new and are unable to master the skills or tasks required for success.

A mistake, on the other hand, is an error we make while doing something we know how to do. For example, I know how to spell cowboy, but if I mistakenly hit the 'u' key, it becomes cowbou. A mistake on my part. I know how to spell it, but I made a mistake when I typed it in.

I count my bull riding career, as short as it was, as a failure. What mistakes did I make while pursuing that career?

None!

I did not know enough to make any mistakes. Now this is key. I don't want to learn from my mistakes, because mistakes are only errors that I have made while doing something I already know how to do. Yes I would like to correct the mistakes I make. But what am I learning while doing that?

Failure is a great option! What? Am I about to be committed and spend the rest of my born days in a rubber room? How can failing be good?

This early failure taught me one very important lesson. And I attribute this lesson to my Father, who said this to me when he learned of my failure as a bull rider. He said, "Son, I am so proud of you!"

I was floored. Did I hear him say he is proud of me? For failing?

My Dad explained, "It is not important how many times we fail at something we set our hand to, but it is very important that you learn something every time you fail. Now, what did you learn?"

My Dad couldn't read or write very well, because he went to work to support his family at the same age as I was when I started my bull riding career. He was 10 when he stopped going to school and started working on his Uncle's farm. He had a fourth grade education. His words of wisdom has been with me ever since.

I don't remember my response to him, but I have always remembered this: Failure is a great option, but only if we learn from it! I never was afraid of failing after that, because I knew failures brought learning with it.

Thanks, Dad.


Street Talk

C. Hughes  

Well, darn, something I'm already an expert at. Nice perspective. I had a Grandad with that sort of wisdom. Thanks for sharing.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

You're good at what? OH I get it! LOL Your welcome. Thanks for the input!

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Smart advice!

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Thanks for reading!

Reply
  about 7 years ago
Joan S  

I just LOVE this article. Thank you McK. Learning from failure is what it's all about. You take away a wealth of experience and lessons. If you keep at it, then you'll conquer whatever it is you want to achieve. Either that, or wisdom will tell you to just let it be, and move on. Your dad sounds awesome.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Thanks for that Joan! Sometimes I don't feel too wealthy with experience LOL I feel just plain old! LOL Thanks for the read and compliment! Yeah, my dad was pretty dang great all the time, 'cept for when he wasn't!

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Those are words of wisdom. I'm not sure I have heard failure and mistake explained that way but I like it. Thanks for sharing

Reply
  about 7 years ago

You are most welcome. Glad you liked it.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Wow what a lovely article, firstly to the lessons you learnt and secondly to the dedication to a father... I love articles like this, all to often the fathers input to a sons success is easily forgotten, it might just have been a word or a gesture, but that input was always there for us to remember, great article Mac... "Mac the Cowboy" bull rider extraordinaire...

Reply
  about 7 years ago

LOL I didn't pursue bull riding which my mom was sure happy to hear! I learned to respect those rodeo cowboys even more. Oh, and I tell you what, those rodeo clowns have got to be the bravest or the craziest soul I have ever seen! They are right there to help protect the bull rider from harm. I had a buddy in high school that went on to be a rodeo clown! And yup his elevator didn't go all the way to the top floor, if you know what I mean. I think he is still on the semi professional rodeo circuit being a clown! What a fella! Thanks for the comments and compliments. You rock!

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Damn I had forgotten about the clown... he is the bravest of the brave ... or just a bugger for punishment...

  
  about 7 years ago

Thanks for sharing your Dad's great insight. We must be doing something right; we are here and learning...

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Very true! Love to learn, and well don't love to fail, but do love the learning that comes with it! Thanks for the read and the comments!

Reply
  about 7 years ago
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