A Dirty 4-letter word: The “F” word

No, silly!  I’m not taking about THAT “F” word!  I’m talking about the other “F” word, F-A-I-L!  Fail is not a dirty word.  However, most people regard it that way. I fall off the horse all the time, but I get up, dust myself off, and I get back on the horse!  All it means to fail is this, according to Dictionary.com, “to fall short of success or achievement in something expected; to receive less than the passing grade or mark in an examination,class, or course of study;  to be or become deficient or lacking; to be insufficient or absent ;to fall short.”  There are many other ways this can be applied, of course, but I’m just talking about life failures, in general.  

In any event, I didn’t realize that it was okay to acknowledge failure until I was completing a job application.  I applied for this job and knew I was not really qualified, but I submitted the application anyway.  I figured I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.  While answering the questions, I was asked what qualified me to do this job. HA!  I replied, “I’m a fast learner, willing to listen, to adapt, and to fail, if necessary.” Now, who the heck writes that on a job application?  I did.  I don’t see failure as a dirty word. It’s that thing that propels us to the next level.  It’s what we can learn from, but first we have to accept it.  It doesn’t mean we bask in it.  We re-examine the failure, why it happened and what we can do better next time.  Yes…you will have a next time!  We can try over and over, but still keep failing. So what?  It doesn’t define you; it doesn’t make or break you; it doesn’t make us a loser or unsuccessful.  It’s not who you are.  It’s our opportunity to make whatever it is better.

I think about all the failures in my life, especially at love.  I have to keep believing that some guys weren’t right guy for me.  I almost married one, but God orchestrated it so that guy would call off the wedding.  I didn’t realize that to be the case at first.  I just felt like I had failed miserably and let all my family down. Each time I looked in the mirror, all I saw was a failure.  In time, I have come to learn that the failures saved me from some long-term hurts that I could not see at the time, and that could have emotionally paralyzed me.

Being a Christian does not exclude us from failure.  In fact, I like to fail!  Don’t get it twisted…it doesn’t feel good, but it definitely keeps me depending on God and acknowledging Him in all things!  He is my source…my provider.  His in infinite in everything.  There is no failure in or with God.  When we attempt to face that failure on our on is we when get stuck.  We focus on it and waddle in our pity.  “Woe is me!”  I don’t have time for pity parties….mine or yours!  I may feel bad about the failure for a day or a few days, but rest assured I am restrategizing how to accomplish what I need to.  I simply ask God to reorder my steps; to give me wisdom; to give me understanding; and to give me discernment.

Michael Jordan Quote2How easy it is to quit.  I see students all day who quit.  “The class is too hard.”  So they quit.  “I don’t like this job.”  So they quit. “The manager gave me too many hours.”  So they quit.   “I don’t like the way that teacher looked at me.”  So they quit.  “She disrespected me.”  So they quit.  How much harder would it be to stick it out?  Life is hard, and it will not get easier.  There will be some successes and there will be more failures.  Think about our young people.  There are systems which are failing them.

They don’t know how to stick with anything because parents, educators, and administrators have made it too easy.  Why?  The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)of 2001. We’re pushing them through a system of standardized testing, pushing what’s on the test instead of pushing real learning.  Students aren’t even allowed, or able when required, to think for themselves. Instead of letting them get a “bad” grade (God forbid), we allow the to retake/redo the test/assignment until they get a passing grade.  For real!  This is really happening in the schools.  Those of my generation (born in the mid to late sixties), do you recall getting an “F” if that is what your work reflected?  Teachers did not give do-overs because they didn’t have time to do extra grading.    Does that mean they wanted us to fail?  Absolutely not!  what they wanted and expected from us, as did my mother, was for us to put in the work and effort to get that passing grade on the test or assignment.  Not anymore.  We spoon-feed information that they can’t even regurgitate and will not commit to memory.  But let there be some foul lyrics to some rap song?  You’ll hear that mess all day!  We have failed them by lowering the standards…the expectation.

F-A-I-L is not a dirty 4-letter word.  We loosely use the other “F” word, which truly is a dirty word and we allow it.  I walk the halls of the school and hear students throw it around loosely all day, with no reverence or regard for the adults in their presence.  Heck, I have adult friends who will do the same!  Let us utter “FAIL” and it’s like, “How dare you?  You’d better fix it so my kid passes and can keep playing sports!” Really?  How about this?  You get out of life, what you put into it and that includes all endeavors.

To encourage you, here is a list of people who failed at some point before making it:

  • Jay-Z
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Walt Disney
  • Steven Spielberg
  • R.H. Macy
  • Soichiro Honda
  • Colonel Harland David Sanders
  • Vice President Dick Chenney
  • Sir Isaac Newton
  • Vera Wang
  • Thomas Edison
  • Sidney Poitier
  • Albert Einstein
  • J.K. Rowling
  • Charles Darwin
  • Vincent Van Gogh
  • Harrison Ford
  • Theodor Seuss Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss)
  • Lucille Ball
  • Stephen King
  • Lady Gaga

In the words of Henry Ford, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”


Author: Redbone & Rice

Member in the ranks of the library profession since 1994: Academic, Special, School and Public; Lover of books; and Awesome!

One thought on “A Dirty 4-letter word: The “F” word”

  1. This was good. You have me a new perspective of the word fail. Since I am in undergrad school right now, I am constantly taking tests; some I pass and some, well, I fail. I don’t like to use that word because it makes me feel like a failure, like I didn’t try. But, as I have learned, I may fail tests only to end up with a final grade of a B at minimum. It is failing that causes me to level up to the challenge before me, to do the extra work. I don’t like to admit when I have failed at something, but at the end of the night, failing just means I’ve stepped up to the plate. Thanks for this!


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