Poor Charlie Brown. In the Peanuts comic strip, he seems to be continually frustrated with life. How many times does he try to kick that football that Lucy always manages to pull away at the last second? What’s remarkable is that he keeps trying. He possesses determination and hope. He believes that this time it will be different. We can learn a lot from Charlie Brown.
Although the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results, sometimes we do need to repeat our failures. How else are we ever going to learn?
As my friend Buzz Williams says, “Success has caused more failure than failure. Success causes people to think they’ve arrived but failure causes most people to work harder.”
Perhaps the trick is to not give up but to do something a bit differently. Wasn’t it Thomas Edison who said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” I wonder how much each of us could accomplish if that was our attitude. Thomas Edison is also credited with saying “Discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I’ll show you a failure.”
So maybe Charlie Brown is smarter than we would think from watching him try to kick that football time and time again. Charles Schultz, the creator of the Peanuts comic strip, was no stranger to failure. He actually failed every subject in eighth grade, was socially awkward and wasn’t good at sports. The one thing he was good at was drawing. But even then, he experienced failure. His cartoons were rejected by his high school yearbook. He submitted his drawings to Disney studios which were rejected. Schultz continued to learn from those rejections and kept honing his skill till he did achieve success doing what he loved.
It can be difficult to acknowledge failure, especially in business. But that’s really the best way to learn. Sometimes when we make a mistake we get a good laugh. But most times, we probably wish we had done it right the first time.
So perhaps we should be more like Charlie Brown or Charles Schultz. Don’t give up when we fail but see this as a learning opportunity. Next work harder and/or do something different. You now know what doesn’t work. Experiment a bit. Think outside the box. Be bold. Just tweak things a bit—small changes can yield big results.
Believe in yourself, even when no one else will. Guess who got fired because he had no good ideas and lacked imagination? Walt Disney. Think of all those successful people who first experienced failure the next time you make a mistake. And welcome those setbacks because they prove that you are trying new things, growing, developing and learning. In other words, living life to the fullest.