Success is overrated. Fail. Rinse. Repeat.

There’s something to be said for failure. Not the permanent kind, although I would argue that permanent failure exists only if you give up.  But the trying-something-I-haven’t-yet-mastered kind of failure…that’s the kind I’m speaking of.

We all look up to someone in racing. Many of us think that if we just achieved their level of mastery and accomplishment, we’d be satisfied. We would have success.

But that person, your person, has someone that they look up to as well. And I’ll bet someone looks up to you. Me, too. (It’s hard to believe, but my dog is significantly shorter than me. *Ba-Dum-CH!*)

She looks up to me. Literally.

She looks up to me. Literally.

We strive to the next far-reaching level of success. And some of us may be satisfied when we get there. It may be enough. And that’s great. It really is.

But for me? That’s not in my nature. I’m a competitive, driven person. I’ll always want to be better, and to achieve more. It can be unsatisfying at times, but at the same time I’m proud of where that has taken me so far.

So I’ve learned that I need to fail. And do it as quickly and often as I can.

It’s these failures, these attempts that we make over and over again, that lead us to accomplishment.

When I do a branding or marketing campaign for a company, I fail at creating slogans. I fail at directing the graphics. I fail at writing website copy, crafting a marketing strategy and designing social media campaigns. I fail over and over again at countless things until I get it right.

I bet you failed at everything in racing at least once before you mastered it. You probably didn’t think about not getting all the air bubbles out of the line the first time you bled brakes as a failure. You just didn’t know how to do it right until you did.

It’s when the tasks get bigger, the decisions messier, that we start worrying about failing. Not getting it right in the garage isn’t failing. Not turning left in front of an audience, not being the fastest, not quitting your job to go on the road with a touring series…those seem riskier. Even though they are the tasks we know we need to fail at to achieve our goals. The weight we put into the task and the risk we associate it with is what shifts our mind to haven’t-done-yet to failure-is-deadly status.

Failure eliminates the bubble – the safe place in which you dream all the dreams but don’t take the risk of actually pursuing them. You never fail in the bubble. Everything is possible.

But if you’re like me and you want something more, you can’t fail to try. You must try to fail. It sounds scary, but failure will not kill your dream unless you let it. Failure to try will.

Every time you fail, you will learn. When you learn, you can adjust. You can move forward and try again, aiming closer and closer to your target. The faster you fail, the faster you succeed at learning. 

Fail at your marketing. Fail at getting faster. Fail at a new race track. Fail at talking to sponsors.

Fail. Fail often. Fail quickly. Fail unapologetically. Fail through the fear. Fail with excitement. Make failure your goal, and make it fun.

Fail until you succeed, and then find something better to fail at.

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About the author

Kristin Swartzlander Kristin Swartzlander is passionate about applying business sense to racing 'nonsense' in hopes of growing the sport of dirt track racing. She is a business strategist who works with entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them learn how to use public relations, marketing and social media to achieve their goals. Learn more about social media, marketing and racing sponsorship on the DirtyMouth blog.