Professional Growth

The importance of fear and failure for our modern society

Written by Moritz Schröder

It is safe to say that we currently live in the most advanced society there ever was. Never before in human history were people wealthier. Never before were people healthier. And never before had people a higher education.

I realize of course that this is not necessarily true for every part of the world. And I also know that even in the industrialized countries, the gap between rich and poor is huge, and still widening.

But let’s face it: if you are the child of an average family in the western world, you have excellent chances to live a decent life. You will never have to face the fear of starvation. It is highly unlikely that you will die of preventable diseases. And you will receive at least a basic education, which will then give you the opportunity to get a job that maintains your standard of living. Even people who don’t manage to find a job or become unemployed, usually don’t fall through the cracks of society, since we have a social welfare and healthcare system that provides a safety net.

That so many millions of people nowadays live in such comfortable circumstances is of course a great achievement of mankind. It does however also bear the risk of the majority of the population getting too comfortable. The average people’s lives are pretty fucking good without them having to work very hard. But progress is only made when you push limits. And for many people, there is just no definite need to really push themselves.

Instead, they only want the good feelings. They only want the positive emotions and do everything they can to avoid the negative ones. What they don’t take into consideration though is that we learn from our mistakes! We get stronger trough pain! And we grow through failure! Failing is what shows us the way that doesn’t work. Every great thing that any human ever achieved is something that countless others first failed at before!

Failing at something, sticking at it, and then failing again, and again, and again, is what eventually leads to success. But since so many people nowadays have a relatively easy life, they also always have an easy way out. When people try to excel at something nowadays and fail, they can just give up, avoid the negative feeling of failure and still live very comfortably. How many people are even willing to fail on a larger scale? Yes, we all failed at an exam once or at a sport. But how many people have failed at their profession, may it be their own business or something else? How many people really and truly managed to completely fuck up? It is not that many, and the reason why is because so many people don’t even try!

Those who never failed, never tried.” – Albert Einstein

Back in the past, the average person had such a shitty life that risking the status quo wasn’t even a big deal. Most people had nothing to lose and everything to gain. That doesn’t mean that people didn’t fail, but not trying was not a tempting alternative. Nowadays however, taking risks and risking to fail comes with huge opportunity costs! Why try something outstanding, struggle, and possibly fail if at the same time you could do something average, never have to worry and have a very calm and happy life?

Risking something brings fear into your life, it shakes everything up, and many people just don’t want that. A century or two ago though, fear was a constant part of life. People were scared that they might die of unhealthy living conditions, people were scared that their children might now have enough to eat, people had to worry all day! But this fear was a catalyst and driving force for progress! It pushed people forward and made them excel. It made them push beyond failure. And we reap the fruits of this hard labor by the way we are able to live today.

Without pain, without sacrifice, we would have nothing. – Tyler Durden

But if we want to continue to progress as a society, it is essential that people keep taking risks, that people keep failing, and that people continue to face the fear that comes with that.

I believe that failing on a large scale is one of the best things that can happen to anyone who wants to excel nowadays. It doesn’t come with as many risks as in the past, but it still comes with all the positive effects: Nothing makes you grow more as a person. Nothing makes you push your limits more. And nothing will make you feel more alive than giving everything and still fucking up. Over and over again.


Published in Professional Growth

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