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Failure

A friend sent me a write-up of J K Rowling’s speech to an outgoing class of Harvard students. What stuck out for me was a paragraph that read:

 

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case you fail by default.”

 

I liked that. Enough to make me write it on a square sheet of notepad paper and stick it on the board by my desk at work. I liked it a lot.

 

I liked it because failure is important. While success is avidly sought after, while so much of life becomes more and more about having the things that signpost success (the car, the person on your arm, the letters after your name) there seems to be less and less space for failure. I know someone who likes to say he’s mastered failure. I liked that too. As odd as it might sound being a master of failure is an important ability to have in a world like ours. Very few people have the ability to go through failure, experience it and come out the other side. I once went to a soccer match and in the last few minutes of the game when it became obvious that the home team would lose lines and lines of fans rose off the cold cement seats and began exiting the stadium. It hit me in a profound way, winning was so important to them that they couldn’t bear to stay and watch their team lose.

 

But if we teach our children that life is about success, striving for, fighting for and working for great success we paint an illusionary picture that would at some point disappoint maybe even depress them as they grow up. While I have personally enjoyed many successes in life, a truck load of good times and victories, life, I am learning, is about the simple things. The in between times and especially the times things haven’t gone my way. The times I’ve lost, the times I failed. And while it takes nothing to stand up on a podium and wave a gold cup in the air, it takes all the nerve in the world to stand up and wave nothing, empty-handed with no accolades or merits. Some of the most amazing people I know have failed continuously through their adult years. What makes them amazing is not that they failed, it’s that they keep standing. Can we teach our children that failure is a natural part of life, that everything tends to come together in the end, that it’s okay and that they’re okay too.

 

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. May 16, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    Can one be inspired by the whole topic of Failure?
    I dare say, anything worth achieving is worth failing at…imagine the training in simply standing up again, with a new view, a fresh approach…stronger, wiser, less fearful. I’m taking it on! Thanks.

    • May 17, 2011 at 9:57 am

      Yes! And I really do feel strongly we need to spread the message to our young ones. The more willing they are to fail the bigger the games and projects they will take up in life. We want those kinds of people around in the world! Thanks for reading CreativeIntrospection and thanks for your comments.

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