Failure is Not an Option

I was on a much needed break during a 5 hour certification test. I’m used to taking cert tests, but this one was totally new and I wasn’t doing so well. 

All the time spent studying and going to class, would be wasted if I didn’t pass this test.  In addition, I’d have to face all my co-workers and tell them I’d failed.  To add further stress, I ran into a couple of colleagues in the testing center.   It’d be sooo much easier if all these people didn’t know I was taking this test!!

As I tried to calm myself and focus, I remembered that scene from the movie Apollo 13. It’s something like this, at least how I remember it:
The mission director calls everyone into a room, draws a picture on the blackboard and says: “our men our here and we have to safely get them all the way down to here. Failure is not an option”.  Not, “let’s do our best and see what happens” or “we’ve never seen this before so we’ll try”, or “if you encounter something hard, well we tried”.

No excuses at all! Just the mantra “failure is not an option”.  If you’re familiar with the space program, you know the rest of the story.  Just about every imaginable crisis happened and the engineers did the “impossible” by solving or finding a work around for each one.  I particularly liked where they had to figure out how to get a square filter into a round hole.  As Apollo 13 crew descends into the atmosphere, a couple of guys begin talking about what they think is impending doom.  One guy says “Yeah, I know it’ll be the worst disaster in NASA history”.  The mission director says to them “with all due respect, I believe this will be our finest hour”.  And it was…

I went back to my test not knowing how I’d do it, but told myself I’m going to pass this test. I took 4 hours and 45 minutes of the 5 hours & squeaked by with a 78. Whew!! (I’m going to study better for the next one)

I was quite happy and relieved to say the least. Sure, I could’ve just said “it was harder than expected”, or “I didn’t study enough” and given up & failed.  I didn’t though, there was that determination. Was it that all my friends & colleagues knew? Was it the internal pride? Was it the fact I didn’t want to take this again? Hmmm…what is it that propels us on, that forces us to reach deeper.

On the hour ride home, I began to look at other areas of my life and wonder just where else could I pull out a miracle.  I remembered some of my successes and the determination required to make it so.  I also looked at things I’ve been “dabbling” in and it became crystal clear why they haven’t been moving ahead as planned.  There’s a big difference in “let’s see how this works” vs. “I’m going to make it happen”.

Think about those important things you’re starting or in the middle of; career, education, health, exercise, etc.  Pause for a moment and think of the situation in the context of “Failure is not an option”. No matter what it takes, what obstacles you encounter, or other’s opinions (that’s a big one!), you will achieve this goal.  Hold that mindset for a minute or two or three, or longer…… can be intimidating because we don’t have all the answers, yet. Whether you know exactly what it takes or have no idea, commit to being successful and keep moving forward. Even if you’re crawling, you’re still moving forward. Just remember Failure is not an option!!


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