On Being Savagely Successful

Only through failure can we learn to succeed.

While I believe that’s one of the most important life lessons we can learn, it’s all to often overlooked when we, as parents, attempt to shelter our little dudes and dudettes from this sort of thing, to ensure a failure-free lifetime for our spawn.

The problem with that plan is that it ensures the growth of a no-longer-child who cannot cope with setbacks, who doesn’t know how to learn from mistakes, use that knowledge to correct his or her errors and move on to the next aspect of his or her life. Those of us of the adult persuasion understand that learning from our mistakes so we don’t make them again is essential in just about every aspect of our daily existence.

Folks shouldn’t look at failure as a bad outcome, as long as they contain the persistence to continue working toward the goal they, at first, didn’t attain. Heck, listen to huckster and part-time inventor Thomas Alva Edison: I didn’t fail ten thousand times. I successfully eliminated, ten thousand times, materials and combinations which wouldn’t work.

Adam Savage is a Maker, sort-of scientist and best known as co-host of Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters series. Yesterday, I ran a list of his 10 rules for success. One of those rules said — simply — fail.

If you’ve ever watched Mythbusters, you know one of his sayings is that “Failure is always an option.” He’s not a defeatist, rather he understands that by examining why something failed and how it failed, he can apply those lessons to make the endeavor succeed.

Another of his rules that I particularly like would have to be: If you want something, ASK. I’ve a feeling this should be self-explanatory, but, for too many dudes and dudettes, this completely escapes them.

Too many people seem to believe that their only choices are the ones actually offered to them. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

One of the most important lessons that Zippy the College Boy learned in high school and that, hopefully, Hyper Lad will learn now that he’s attending the same high school, is to self advocate. Which means, in a nutshell, ask for what you want.

If you don’t understand something in class, ask the teacher for clarification. If you still don’t get it, don’t worry. Just keep asking and trying until you do.

If you see someone doing something cool? Ask them how they did it, how they learned it? Where can you learn it?

Looking at Savage’s list, I think the most important thing you can take away from it is that you should approach life as a participatory sport, rather than something you should watch happen.

Get involved! Get motivated!

Work, as Savage said, your ass off to achieve your goals. If you don’t have what you need to accomplish those goals, don’t collapse into a weeping pile of angst. Ask for help. Get what you need, practice the new skills and get good. Then go out and accomplish your goals.

Success takes more than just hard work and diligence, but you can’t succeed without either of them.

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