Don’t Be Afraid to Fail


This is the 58h in a collection of newspaper ads written by Harry Gray, then CEO of United Technologies, that appeared in the Wall Street Journal from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. Here is the text from that ad. (Talk about coincidence. My post yesterday was a chronology of many of my failures.)

You’ve failed many times, although you may not remember.
You fell down the first time you tried to walk.
You almost drowned the first time you tried to swim, didn’t you?
Did you hit the ball the first time you swung a bat?
Heavy hitters, the ones who hit the most home runs, also strike out a lot.
R.H. Macy failed seven times before his store in New York caught on.
English novelist John Creasey got 753 rejection slips before he published 564 books.
Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times, but he also hit 714 home runs.
Don’t worry about failure.
Worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.

Harry Gray seems to be an optimist.

Here’s my experiences with some of the above:

  • I was kept in the beginner’s swimming class for six straight, 4-week sessions until I finally put my face in the water. Forget about a fear of drowning, how about a fear of getting wet?
  • Not only did I not hit the ball the first time I swung the bat, how about essentially NEVER hitting the ball, in four seasons of Little League?
  • I can match Ruth with the strikeouts, the other part, not so much…

But I agree with Mr. Gray, the real value is in the trying.

I just wish I had known that lesson earlier in life, and perhaps I would have tried a few more things.

Like asking a girl to my senior prom… oh wait, I did; she said no.