It’s an iconic moment in the movie Apollo 13: The flight team at Mission Control is trying to figure out how to get the ill-fated astronauts back to Earth and Flight Director Gene Kranz states flatly, “Failure is not an option!”
It’s a stirring scene, and the line has become a staple of managers, business gurus and motivational speakers.
There are only a couple of minor problems with the famous line:
2. Failure is always an option.
It may not be a desirable option, certainly not the preferred option, but it’s always an option. And to deny that reality is simply ludicrous.
Almost everything we ever try—whether in sales, leadership, relationships or any other aspect of our business and personal lives—carries the risk of failure.
And that’s not something to be afraid of. Failure teaches us valuable lessons. Failure can give us great ideas. The Apollo 13 mission was itself a failure, yet it resulted in tremendous improvements in America’s space program.
When you tell yourself or others “failure is not an option,” you’re saying failure is unacceptable. Which by extension means experimentation, innovation and change is unacceptable. That belief will stifle growth and success like nothing else.
So if you want to experience better results from your sales team, your business or yourself, embrace the idea that failure is an option. And when you or others fail, celebrate the effort, the courage and the lessons learned.
That will lead you to further success.