What can any of us do with our talent but try to develop our vision, so that through frequent failures we may learn better what we missed in the past?-William Carlos Williams
“Frequent failures” seems to be such a frightening concept! How many of us want to be known as having failed frequently at the things we try to do? How positive is the idea of trying something many times but never accomplishing it, or accomplishing it only after failing many times to do so?
When all is said and done, though, our greatest learning takes place through our failures. When we do something that we already know how to do, something at which we’ve already succeeded, then no learning takes place–we’re simply repeating past actions to achieve the same or similar results. Failure, though, is an important part of the learning process, a result that tells us how something shouldn’t or can’t be done. Each one of our failures is an important step towards success, and the more we fail along the way, the more learning goes into our final, successful achievement.
We’ve missed many things in the past. We’ve missed clues, opportunities, signs, changes, lessons, and many other elements of life. When we learn from a failure, we often can see clearly what we missed or what we didn’t do. “This relationship didn’t work out because I never understood her need for reinforcement.” “This experiment failed because I didn’t see the need for this element.” “This job didn’t work out because I didn’t trust my instinct that told me not to take it, even though I was desperate for work.” If from our failures we can take the lessons that they have to give us, then our failures are truly our greatest successes, and we have to love them more than we love our successes.
Our greatest successes are the result of numerous failures and the great learning that comes from them. But the beauty of failure can’t be seen unless we acknowledge that it’s possible for failure to be beautiful, for failure to be important.
Questions to ponder:
1. How do you view failure in your life? What kinds of experiences have contributed to this perspective?
2. Do you ever tell others that their failure is a positive thing, and then turn around and berate yourself for failing at something?
3. Why do we tend to see failure as something exclusively negative?
For further thought:
Failure is a reality; we all fail at times and it’s painful when we do. But it’s better to fail while striving for something wonderful, challenging, adventurous, and uncertain than to say, “I don’t want to try, because I may not succeed completely.”-Jimmy Carter