I read a quote one day by a friend and role model of mine, who said: "To be good at something, you first must be willing to be bad at it.”
My friend graduated from Cambridge with a first class degree in Mathematics, she was then awarded a PhD in Theoretical Computer Science by the University of Manchester, followed by a degree in Osteopathy from Oxford Brookes. If that's not spectacular enough, she's a World Champion Cage Fighter and a fantastic mother. While most things she says or does are worth remembering, this particular quote has always stuck with me.
We live in a very demanding and challenging society where failure is seen as bad. Too many organisations and educational establishments have cultures of perfection. They believe that any failure is unacceptable and that only success in every case will do. This can cause people to focus solely on their strengths and stay within their comfort zone. This isn't a good thing for personal development, business, sport, education, or any aspect of society.
If we look at the backgrounds of the world's most greatest and memorable people, their lives are filled with failures:
Thomas Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb before he succeeded. When he was at school he was told that he was "too stupid to learn anything."
Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Michael Jordan is now one of the most famous basketball players, and he was once observed saying, "I've failed over and over again in my life. That is why I succeed."
Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor who stated: "He lacked imagination and had no good ideas." Walt went bankrupt several times before he built Disneyland, which was rejected by the city of Anaheim on the grounds that it would only attract undesirable people.
When Colonel Sanders tried to sell his Kentucky Fried Chicken to restaurants he was rejected 1008 times, before he received a "Yes".
Steve Jobs, like Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, never graduated from college.
Abraham Lincoln failed twice in business; he had a nervous breakdown and was defeated in eight elections.
When we fail or make mistakes, we learn something new and we grow. This is the very core of problem solving and self development. While it is important to play to your strengths, this will only take you so far. You should identify the things that you aren't so natural at, that you aren't as talented in and work to improve on these.
This is something you may want to consider when looking for new career opportunites. Will the company embrace mistakes and help you to improve? Will they give you study support? And do they embrace a culture of creativity?