As the famous Gene Kranz (of Apollo 13 fame) quote goes, “failure is not an option”.

Gene had it almost right… failure isn’t an option, it’s a necessity. In order to grow as a person and as an entrepreneur, it’s important to be ok with failing. Failing means you really went for something that was just out of reach!

Never failing means you never tried. Never trying is a tragedy.

Especially when it comes to taking a leap in your work life, like leaving the job that is slowly killing your spirit. You sit at your desk, waiting for five o’clock to roll around, uninspired by the work you’re doing.

What if you pursued that little business you’ve been dreaming of starting? What if it doesn’t work? Then you’re… not a failure. You’re someone who tried something difficult and learned a lot, so the next stab you take at building your own career and sticking it to the man you’ll have a much larger arsenal of skills to draw from.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

Ask any athlete to describe the first skills they mastered; there’s a solid chance that lesson 1 had to do with learning how to fail. If you practice falling (or dropping your weights safely), it’s not so scary.

If you know what the ice feels like under your butt, you know it’s not going to kill you to take a tumble. The knowledge that failure isn’t the end of everything allows you to do the real work of chasing your dreams. Babies, as they learn to walk, fall down all the time. Their drive to learn overrides any deterrent that falling represents, and they get right back up again.

Imagine the baby who, having fallen once, decided to stay seated indefinitely? Failing is part of learning. Fall down seven times, get up eight, right?

J.K. Rowling, before becoming famous for writing Harry Potter (Yes, it’s true. I’ve never read it), was an unemployed single mom living in poverty. By her own description she was “the biggest failure [she] knew”.

Before founding Microsoft, Bill Gates had dropped out of Harvard and started a company called Traf-O-Data that was a real stinker. He didn’t let that stop him though, and went on to become a self-made billionaire by the age of 31.

Practice failing, in small ways that don’t matter to your big picture. Think of it as practicing for the big leaps. As you get comfy with failing and falling you may discover you become bolder and braver.

Chase your dreams with your eyes open, because failing is just one rung on the ladder to success.

Originally published at