Recommended Reading – Optional Failure Edition

Excuse me for a moment. I have something to say to a very small class of extremely vocal people. It includes politicians, corporate leaders, news pundits and dieters. I am referring, of course, to people who say, “failure is not an option.”

Stop.

Stop saying that.

You are wrong in such a fundamental way that it makes me sad.

Failure is an option. It is nearly always an option. It may not be the option you want. It may be the option you are trying to avoid, but it is most definitely an option.

I know you are trying to say something to the effect of, “we must succeed” or “we’re so good that we cannot fail” or some other equally ineffectual aphorism. They are all bad, but that isn’t the problem. The problem is that what you are saying is the exact opposite of what you want to say.

Consider these two statements.

The CEO is going to be discussing the new Seven Stigma process improvement initiative. Attendance is optional.

The CEO is going to be discussing the new Seven Stigma process improvement initiative. Attendance is mandatory.

Are you getting the picture? If something is not optional, it is mandatory, or in the sense of the statement as people utter it, inevitable. “Failure is not an option, it is inevitable.” That is what I hear when you rattle off that silly, self-serving statement.

Thank you for your time. Fail well my friends.

4 thoughts on “Recommended Reading – Optional Failure Edition

  1. How more pedantic can one become when it comes to expressing yourself in an eloquent manner? In my opinion, it is OK to write as you speaek, as long as you make sense. Of course, it is a completely different matter if you submitting a college or university dissertation to obtain your advanced degree.

    1. I wasn’t asking people to speak formally, just logically, especially when making a grand, sweeping statement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>