The Liberty to Fail


I have two friends whom I met while I was a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.  After they left that office, they formed law partnership, but their real passion was establishing a restaurant.  So as they went along they put their resources into a restaurant and tried to make it work.  But it didn’t.  So they continued to practice law, and tried again – with the same results.  Unfazed, they tried it a third time, and now they are the owners of California Pizza Kitchen.  (They don’t practice law anymore. . . .)

                My friends demonstrated the benefits of having the Liberty to Fail.  And they were able to develop the Grit eventually to succeed because no one stepped in to shield them from their prior failures.  Unfortunately so many of our children today, often with their “hovering” or “tractoring” parents, are being deprived of the benefit of developing that Grit.  Psychologist Angela Duckworth defines that Grit as “perseverance, plus the exclusive pursuit of a single passion.”  And if children, or anyone else, are deprived of the opportunity of experiencing setbacks, much less overcoming them, the odds of developing that Grit – that “spit in your eye” attitude – will be seriously diminished.  So struggling is often not a signal for alarm, because tackling problems that exceed one’s current skillset can be a good thing.  Yes, society should voluntarily implement a Safety Net below which no one should be allowed to fall.  But that should not be utilized to deprive our people – young and old – of the Liberty to Fail.

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with
Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President