Failure gets a bad rap. We tend to look down on an incident of failure as negative, maybe feeling bad for the person(s) involved or looking upon them as lesser people.

God forbid someone fail multiple times, for we will look upon the entire person as “a failure.” And we do this most of all with ourselves.

I think it’s a defense mechanism at work – after all, who wants to fail at something? Who goes around thinking, “Yeah I hope I screw up and make mistakes today?” So because we don’t want to fail, failure itself become a negative. We try to distance ourselves from it mentally and emotionally, striving for success only, and taking great pains to avoid failure.

Identity: Success or Failure?

There’s some “ego” at work here as well. Our culture raised us to wrap our identities around varied forms of success (money, power, material, good looks, etc…). If we “fail,” and do not live up to such expectations, then of course our identity will bear the taint of failure because we’ve made it so.

The problem is not just our willingness to give up our very identities to the labels of a philosophically-retarded society. No, the problem is also that we just don’t understand the role of failure at all.

Risk of Failure

The concept of “fail fast” grew up in software development, and was used to make companies more agile an an industry quickly approaching light-speed. Under this paradigm, failure wasn’t something to be avoided. It was a necessity.

And that is the right way to look at failure – as a necessary outpost along the road to success. Failures are not “breakdowns,” they are milestones.

Milestones are GOOD things. They are signs of progress.


This applies to self-defense and firearms training in a big way. For one thing, people with this distorted view of failure can create a wall of negativity between them and beginning a thing like personal development.

But failure is a necessary part of personal development and skill building. Once you realize it’s not even possible to get better without failure, you start to use it as a constructive tool rather than something to avoid or regret.

It’s in the correction of the mistake where success is grown. Part of the reason we don’t experience this more often is that we are afraid to take risks that carry a higher probability of failure.

If success in an endeavor is your goal, put failure in your toolbelt and begin.

*Photo credit: Cody Walz @urkillinmewalz