Many of us are afraid of failure. Yet there are certain kinds of “failure” that can be beneficial.

I’m defining incremental failure as progress that stops short of achieving the ultimate goal, yet still can be built upon. Obviously incremental failure is different from catastrophic failure or destructive failure, yet they often get lumped together.

Fear of failure often keeps people from setting BHAGs (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals, see Jim Collins’ “Good to Great”). Personally, as long as I can control the downside risk (avoid destructive failure), I love to shoot for the stars. Stretch goals, 1,000% improvement targets, stir my blood, give me a reason to bound out of bed every mornin full of energy.

I may only get to a 1,000% improvement 1% at a time, maybe only .25% or .5% a day. Yet if I go to bed knowing I’ve made meaningful progress, then every day is a success, every day is a joy.

Closing quotes (the Michael Jordan quote is my favorite):

“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.” — Henry Ford

“There is no failure except in no longer trying.” — Elbert Hubbard

“Winners lose more than losers. They win and lose more than losers, because they stay in the game.” — Terry Paulson

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” — Michael Jordan