My dad told me once, “Failure is not an option.” It’s a quote from Gene Kranz, an aerospace engineer and the director in charge of the Apollo missions to the moon. If those missions failed, they would have died. It is now the slogan for NASA.
My dad is also an aerospace engineer like Gene Kranz. He has told me and my siblings that failure is not an option.
It took me a long time, but now I finally know that’s wrong. Not only is failure an option, but it is also a requirement.
We do not need to have a paralyzing fear of failure. Students, teachers, parents and kids — every human is scared of failure because they don’t know how to fail.
In order to succeed, we need to change our views of failure.
First: There is no such thing as a total failure.
Second: The road to success is not a straight line to the top. Please, don’t go down the road thinking you are a disappointment to your parents or to God.
Third: The idea of success you have for yourself may not be what you actually end up doing.
I have failed almost every math class since fifth grade. I thought since I’m smart and my dad is good at math, I need to be an engineer too and take the advanced math classes. That was a bad idea. I even failed classes during my first semester at BYU-I, but those were not total failures. I had to fail so my mindset would shift from getting the best grade to finding what I really wanted to learn and focus on being good at that.
I learned from my failure. A total failure would have been continuing down a path where I would not be successful. You have to fail to learn.
Before President Russell M. Nelson was an apostle, he was a heart surgeon. There was a family who had a little girl with a congenital heart defect, and she needed this brand new surgery from President Nelson. He agreed to the surgery because the family begged him so fiercely to save their little girl. A few years before their little girl needed her surgery, they had a little boy who had the same heart defect who died while being operated on by Dr. Nelson. He did the best he could, but she ended up passing away as well.
A few years later, the couple had another little girl. This little girl also had this same heart defect as her siblings and urgently needed an operation. It had been a long time since the first surgery, he had learned a lot since then. So, even though President Nelson was scared, he operated. And the little girl passed away as well.
Three children died while President Nelson was trying to save them. Three children from the same family, with the same problem.
President Nelson went home to his wife. He said he could never operate again, he cried all night. Losing these kids felt like the end of his road. The next morning when they woke up, his wife said, “Get up. Go to work.” He didn’t want to, but he did. He got up and went to work, and he learned everything he could and worked hard to perfect this surgery.
Years later, this same procedure that President Nelson perfected after losing these three babies saved President David O. McKay who would go on to be a prophet.
The road was like a roller coaster but because of the failure to save three innocent lives, thousands are now being saved. I don’t see President Nelson as a failure, do you?
The thing I want you to understand about failure is: failure often leads to success.
This success could very easily be different and better than the one you have in mind. You will be blessed if you work hard, adapt your plans, and humble yourself enough to think about what the best result could be.
I’m not perfect; I’m just Hannah, but I am working hard. I know that I am going to fail and that is good!
I know how to fail because I know there is no such thing as a total failure.
I know the road to success is not a straight line, and I know that my idea of success is going to change as I fail. I am learning to fail better.