The Freedom to Fail

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” — Declaration of Independence

I’ve never heard a knock, knock joke about America.  Do you know why?  Because freedom doesn’t knock…it rings!

Today in the United States we celebrate our nation’s Independence Day.  On this day, 240 years ago, in 1776, the Continental Congress adopted The Declaration of Independence, a document which detailed the grievances of the American colonies against the British crown and declared the colonies to be free and independent states.  On this day, we celebrate freedom.

Though millions have died for it, and most would choose freedom over any alternative, freedom can often be very frightening.  It often imposes difficult decisions, and requires valiant effort to maintain.  Though freedom is indisputably the best course, it is seldom the easiest.

Freedom is an empowering and sobering concept.  Freedom has given individuals and communities the ability to create great things.  It gives us the opportunity to succeed and also to fail.  It allows us to make our own way in life, and requires that we accept the responsibility for that.  Freedom is not easy, because with freedom comes responsibility.  It is impossible to have one without the other.  The two simply cannot exist apart, and no amount of legislation can ever change this. You can be truly free only by being totally responsible for your life and your actions.

To be truly free, we must also be free to fail.  There can be no success, without the possibility of failure.  If there were no such thing as failure, how would you even define success?  It is that possibility of failure that imposes the needed discipline, guides our decisions, begs us to act responsibly, and ultimately leads to success and achievement.

“It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them.” – Mark Twain

So here are a few questions:   

  • What would you do if you knew you could not fail?  
  • What “one thing” would you change to make your restaurant better?
  • How much effort would you put into taking care of our guest if you knew they were having the best experience ever?  
  • How much time would you spend training team members if you knew if would make a difference?
  • Would your effort be different today if you knew your boss was watching and determining your pay raise based on the observations?

The answer to each question will tell you a great deal about where your career and your restaurant should be headed.  Because, even though there’s no guarantee of success, if we try something, there is a guarantee — of accomplishing nothing — if we don’t try.

Fear of failure is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to success.  We’re afraid of what other people will think.  We’re afraid of being uncomfortable.  We’re afraid of looking bad.  We’re nervous about what our boss will say.  We don’t think we have the freedom to fail.

When you are attempting something half-heartedly, then you should fear failure, because that’s probably what’s going to happen.  If you only halfway try at something, then you should worry about what other people think, you should worry about looking bad, because you will look bad.

The secret is to make your dream big enough, your goal high enough, your purpose meaningful enough to inspire you and all of those around you.  Remember, “Some of us will do our jobs well and some will not, but we will be judged by only one thing. The result.”  – Vince Lombardi

As we celebrate Independence Day today, understand that freedom cannot come from government.  It cannot be legislated.  It must be fought for.  There has been a high price paid to secure our liberty.  There has been sacrifice, bloodshed and countless men and women have given their lives to secure our liberty.  Because of their dedication and commitment, we live in a country that allows us the opportunity to succeed, the freedom to fail and the ability to continue MOVING FORWARD.