Reflections on the Use of the Word "Failure": I blame Manufacturing.

Updated: Dec 21, 2021


A picture of metal rods from a manufacturing company
Metal Rods

Maybe I’ve spent too much time in manufacturing because “failure” is one of my default words. I have tried to incorporate fiasco, breakdown, catastrophe, flop, and disappointment, but I usually wind up going with failure.


Why? When things are not running at design, they are in functional failure, or they have failed. Those are the three most simple states of an asset and it’s how I think.


And in defaulting to the word, maybe I’ve over-embraced it because it is an easy one. And yet, I have noticed over the years, that the word “failure” may be too harsh with every situation. Perhaps not always the right choice when people begin to understand who I am and what I am trying to say.

This thought arose when I read a recent quote by the great Coach Wooden,

“If you are not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”

His comment here is something that is a little softer but states the same message but in a much more empathetic way. Perhaps it's time to challenge my language and my favorite go-to word and try to convey my thoughts more like Coach Wooden.


While I'm at it, let's hear one more from Wooden.

"Success is never a final state, and failure is never fatal."



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