At some point during your life, be it in your career or personal life, you will be introduced to failure. It will look you dead in the eye in all of its snarky, bubbling sulfuric glory. Failure will baldly face you with how your hubris or ambivalence or even plain old uncontrollable fate got you to the point that you're currently at and dare you to flinch or look away from that ugly, ugly reality.
In making safer decisions, become complacent and taking less risks, you can try to avoid failure. In fact, most people will choose this course of action because, let's face it, failure sucks. If I wanted all of my mistakes and errors in judgment pointed out to me, I only need to look at my high school yearbook or talk to my mom (just kidding, love you mom (I didn't need to type that - she doesn't read my blog))*.
Wouldn't you think that failing at risk-taking would be much more glamorous and exciting? If I wanted to fail because of excessive risk, I would become a professional skier, move to New Zealand and buy a farm. But I'm talking about failure at a calculated risk, for example: taking on a new job, moving because of a significant other, going back to school.
Meeting that type of failure in a dark, dank alley that smells like cat piss and stale beer is a blow to the ego, to all of your efforts and to your struggle against 'the man' - 'the man' being the personification of whatever you're struggling against. It seems like fate is against you and may even be evidence that *gasp* you were wrong. Your opinion, judgment and assessment was unsound. Ouch, right?
Failure is hard to face - that's no lie. The question is, when the time comes (not if), what will you do? Will you make excuses to avoid it? Will you run away and hide under your covers, eating cookies and reading romance novels for the next few weeks? Or will you meet failure with a firm handshake, clap it on the back and buy it a drink? Because of failure, you will have seen the result of pushing yourself to the limit. You may decide to back down because of that meeting. Or you may also decide to forge ahead and see how far you can push yourself until you meet again.
Whatever your choice may be, don't be afraid to make that meeting with failure. Because nothing is uglier than hindsight and realizing that you missed an opportunity or a learning experience - even if it was an opportunity to fail.