I love finding out that things are misquoted, or just simply made up because Hollywood likes the sound of it. This infamous Apollo 13 movie quote was never actually uttered but was understood by those who worked on the project. Losing men during the Apollo missions was devastating, the worst being the loss of Gus Grissom, Edward White II and Roger Chaffee during the Apollo 1 Launch Rehearsal. The concept of Failure to bring Apollo 13 home was unthinkable and the knowledgeable and dedicated workers persevered until Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise returned. It was a miracle, in a sense, but truthfully the miracle is the human spirit that refused to quit. I believe that Failure actually only occurs when you choose to Quit.
When I was eighteen I had an interesting discussion with my father. We were visiting Brian Head, Utah for the first time and six of us were sharing a tiny two room condo and enjoying some family vacation time. My father and I stayed up late one night talking. He was concerned about me because I was not interested in going back to college. He asked me, “Aren‘t you afraid of failure?” The concept baffled me. How could I fail if I did not begin? Furthermore, how could I fail if I never quit? I did go back to college and am still pursuing that dream, however I do not consider myself a failure for not finishing sooner. It is a regret but not a failure because I refuse to quit. I will quit pursuing my educational goals when I can no longer breathe.
Furthermore, I refuse to quit on many other things in my life. I refused to quit on my marriage and family although at times the idea has seemed appealing. I refuse to quit on my Special Needs son who makes me mostly crazy but I love dearly. I refuse to quit on my dreams because I don’t know where they will take me. I just keep going. As long as I keep trying I am not quitting therefore I cannot fail. Once I decide to Quit, I am a Failure.
Sometimes I think I am afraid of success. I am somewhat concerned about my abilities to follow through on deadlines and consistency. Commitments frighten me. Some of it is legitimate as I am often called away to take care of my children or some other similar concern. However, it is also the idea that my creative energy has to be harnessed and tamed to produce at will. I still am not disciplined enough for that kind of obligation. Maybe.
I’m trying, however. And until I quit I do not consider myself a FAILURE.