For most people, the time of failure is the most important time of testing in their lives. Margaret Thatcher once said that “Failure is not an option,” by which she meant to imply the inevitability of success, but the truth of the statement transcends even her own meaning: we do not willingly choose failure, but our moments of testing and maturity will be determined by how we choose to deal with the failures that are inevitable. We might say that where there is failure, there is life; and it is failure in life, as in science, that will help us to redefine what success is, and what success can be.
- The Good Life (Peter Gomes)
"We have never lost an American in space and we sure as hell aren't going to lose one on my watch. Failure is not an option" - Ed Harris (Apollo 13)
Unfortunately, we have developed a stigma around success and failure that prohibits us from accepting this paradigm. In general, I don't believe it is a lack of acceptance of failure by others, as I have found that most people are accepting and compassionate to others when they fail to achieve their goals and overall they honor the effort and intent. However, the rub lies within ourselves with our own failures. We don't let ourselves off the hook that easily. When you fall short, miss the goal, overshoot the deadline, or have to decide to stop because success seems unlikely, do you genuinely (be honest now) swell with pride because you gave it your all? Don't get me wrong, commitment and effort are qualities that we do commend, even within ourselves, however they don't bring glory. Those qualities usually serve to justify that we aren't complete failures - delineating the difference between not achieving a goal and a definition of our own character.
When asked about all of his unsuccessful attempts at making a light bulb work, Thomas Edison replied, "I have not failed a thousand times. I have successfully discovered one thousand ways to NOT make a light bulb."
So, go on... fail. Put yourself out there and fail big. Accept that it will happen and embrace it. You'll be a better person for it.