Failure is Always an Option
Return to Nature:
"The Five Pillars of Healing"
founded 2004 by ron cruger
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A place for intelligent readers
When President John F. Kennedy launched the ambitious lunar landing
campaign in 1962, he set in motion a nation that was determined
fulfill this promise. The "Space Race" was on with the competing Soviet
Union and the first nation to land a man on the moon would
with an unworldly amount of prestige that would be hard to match.
This zealous undertaking put a nation in
movement of supporting and creating the necessary resources and
technology to make this vision happen. During this
campaign, the inner
workings of the NASA program (National Aeronautics and Space
Administration) created a robust group of astronauts,
engineers and support staff. These individuals were going to make the
United States the first to land on the moon no
matter what the cost. A
historic phrase that emerged from the Mercury and Apollo space programs
was "Failure is Not an Option!" In
other words, we would rather die than
let the Russians get to the moon before us.
The expression "Failure is Not an Option"
went on to
become the rallying cry for many different organizations in the decades
that followed. Some super-secret military missions
used this credo to
solidify their loyalty to the mission. In layman's terms, "this is a
risky mission but it is imperative that we
succeed." Some business
models have used this bold and enthusiastic statement as their credo for
success. Even many sports teams training
and competing for championship
trophies have rallied behind this motto to "psych" themselves into a
it might seem quite idealistic to believe this
statement, a more natural and healthy model teaches us that "Failure is
Always an Option."
Having failure as an option is actually quite common
and can be seen in working models in our everyday lives. We live, work
daily with failure models without ever realizing it. Failure
is built into many systems, from man-made technology to nature-based
environments. For one to be healthy, failure is a very necessary option.
For instance, in one's home environment, failure
built-in safety mechanism in many of the normal house-hold mechanics.
The home's electrical wiring system is constructed with
a box that holds
"circuit breakers." If the voltage running through the electrical line
were to spike, a circuit breaker would switch
"off" to prevent the line
from being melted by a surge in power. A circuit breaker is a built in
failure system designed to prevent
far worse things from happening.
High voltage electrical wiring grids that deliver
electricity to your home all have
built in failure systems. When one of
these mechanisms is "tripped" for a variety of reasons, a "blackout" or
"brownout" ensues. This
grid failure is a safety system put in place to
prevent a larger problem from occurring.
Your computer has a failure system
built into it as well.
From time to time a computer will "freeze up." Some computers will do
this more than others. You will have
to shut the computer down and
"reboot" the computer to bring it back on line. "Rebooting" is a safety
procedure that allows the system
to fail without causing a more serious
problem. Your water heater also has a built in failure system installed
in it. Every water
heater by law is required to have a pressure release
valve. This valve will only activate and open up to release excess water
in the event of an emergency (like a water pipe freezing over
or clogging up). Without this pressure release valve your water heater
could explode and cause a catastrophic problem.
Your car has many failure systems in place that help to
ensure your safety.
One of these systems is called "crumple zones." If
your car happened to be involved in an accident, certain areas of the
car are designed
to fail or "implode" inward to absorb the energy of the
impact. This could be bumpers, side panels or hoods of the car. A stiff
rigid car that does not flex or "crumple" during a car accident is
much more dangerous to be riding in. Another safety device is the
Many electronic devices come with fuses. This can be seen in the
everyday automobile as well. If there is a "short" in the wiring
surge in the voltage, a fuse will "blow" as a failure mechanism to
prevent greater damage to the car's electrical system.
institutions have built-in failure mechanisms too.
One of these social failure systems is the institution of bankruptcy.
a new business is often a risky endeavor. Up to fifty-percent
of new businesses in the United States fail in the first year.
provides a relief valve for those who are willing to take the
risk and try a new business. Without this failure system in place many
would not venture out to begin the new business. Knowing that there is a
way "out" gives many the peace of mind to take the chance.
is common to witness failure in the natural
environment. For instance, an iceberg can only withstand the pressure of
gale force winds and fluctuations in the tides for so
long before it breaks away from its "mother ice" to float off on its
granite cliff will eventually fail and fall to the ground if
water, wind and temperature fluctuations continue to erode it away. A
beaver damn will ultimately be swept away by the force of the water that
it is attempting to block. If enough snow gathers on a tree
limb will ultimately fail and break, saving the whole tree from toppling
over. An avalanche is a natural failure system
that occurs when an
abundance of snow builds up on a mountain slope. Failure is a natural
part of the environment in which we live.
also have many failure systems built into our health if
we were to pay attention to them. When you are "run down" it is common
many people to develop a cold. Your immune system is in a weakened
state and developing a cold is a way to rest and renew your body.
simple health failure is the first line of systemic warning signs
indicating that your health is under siege. If you fail to
warning it is common for a deeper and more long-lasting illness to
develop. Medicating oneself on a continual basis with
over-the-counter cold relief formulas is like applying a strong adhesive
duct tape to the circuit breaker of your home's
system. You are not allowing the natural failure systems to take place
as you set yourself up for a bigger failure.
Your immune system will
remain in a weakened state. Drugs do not build immunity; drugs only
On a larger
scale, when one is pressuring himself he is
setting himself up for a larger health issue. For instance, in the
United States alone,
the six hour period from 4 am. until 10 am. on
Monday morning occurs the greatest incidence of heart attacks. Do you
not believe that
the pressure of having to go to a job that you do not
enjoy and that is not providing you with the satisfaction you are
anything to do with the heart exploding? Why would your own
heart "attack" you anyways? In this case most people do not give
a relief valve or option so they forge ahead with dire
consequences. As they begin to worry about going to work many people
feel trapped with no way out. As a consequence, the heart will
suffer. Unexpressed emotions will often cause physical health issues.
old adage of the "Christian Work Ethic" leaves no room
for failure. People who stop and rest are considered lazy or morally
One is expected to work as hard as possible until he drops
dead. We pressure ourselves until we have a stroke or heart attack. This
crisis is the body's way of relieving pressure. A surprise to
many, in the United States alone, women now have more heart disease
men. Imagine how women have wanted equality through the women's
movement. They wanted power, influence, careers and affluence.
believed that they had to become like men to get it. Hence, women too
have pressured themselves to death and have lost many
of their natural
feminine qualities. Women now have taken on that long-standing male
belief that in order to get ahead one must continue
to pressure oneself
until he drops from fatigue or death. Women as well as men now leave
little room for failure.
world of marriage there is also a failure option.
This is called divorce. The divorce rate in the United States is around
Rather than suffer any more in a relationship that is not
working, many choose the failure option to provide relief. They feel
when the pressure is off. Many others who choose to grit it out
for social, religious or family reasons often develop long-term
and die. This is the only way they know to save face, not be
labeled as a failure and get relief from the pressure of the situation.
They would rather die than fail at marriage.
In the world of exercise, we often see injuries develop
because people do
not know how to fail. They push their bodies to the
breaking point. Fatigue in a muscle is the first sign of the failure
place. If you ignore this symptom, the muscle spindle or golgi
tendon organ will activate to warn you that the muscles have gone
where they can safely go. By ignoring these warning signs you
might develop "micro tears" in the connective tissue of the tendon.
Finally, if you continue to ignore all of these messages, you might end
up with a complete muscle tear or even rip a muscle from its
the bone. The warning signs were in place. Your unwillingness to listen
to the body's own circuit breakers has sent your
body into chaos. If you
continue to follow the corporate fitness model of "Just Do It!" you
might be heading down the road of complete
Many people practicing yoga experience the same reluctance
to allow failure to be an option. They judge
themselves as unworthy if
they cannot perfect a pose right away. They often are unwilling to
master the basics before they attempt
more challenging poses. Hence, if
they do not bruise their ego they often create an injury to their body.
Frustration and self-condemnation
become the standard responses when one
is struggling to master something that he is not ready for and he is
not allowing himself the
failure option. He might walk away from a yoga
class feeling inferior or inadequate because his "circuit breakers"
remain frozen tight.
He never backs off and is always pressuring himself
into the next pose.
Failure is a time of reorganization. When the
breaker is tripped in your home's wiring system you must mechanically
reset the system. When you are sick, lying in bed is
a time of rest and
renewal. Your body is reorganizing itself as the immune system has time
to catch up. A vacation or long weekend
is a "time out" that reorganizes
oneself and removes a primary source of pressure for many—their work
life. Canceling a meeting or
putting the "out to lunch" sign in the
window are important times to step back and reorganize.
Allowing yourself the opportunity
to have failure as an
option is a very normal and natural alternative. This system is built
into nature and into many mechanical systems.
Having a way out will give
one the sense of not feeling trapped. Failure is always an option if
you allow it to be so.