I wanted to write something on failure and started … stopped … started again … stopped.
Well. I don’t know why but it was hard for some reason.
Harshly? I failed.
I failed at something I wanted to do. But. If creating a blog has taught me one thing <if that is at least one criteria of failing> that I fail constantly.
Little failures? Sure.
But a failure nonetheless.
Oh. And if you are not careful little failures are like dying a death of a thousand cuts.
That REALLY got me thinking about several things … the word failure (and how little it seems to be used these days) and failing itself & lessons and all that crap.
So I went hunting.
Hunting for some inspiration for the right words to say about failing and failure.
My first hunt.
Choose the Right Word by Hayakawa (almost my bible of word descriptions).
It didn’t fail me here.
“Failing” fell under Flaw <wow … I could write an entire book over that little insight>.
Flaw has a variety of aspects … blemish, defect, failing, fault, foible, imperfection, mar, shortcoming.
Failure is a reflection of a flaw.
An imperfection (which seems okay).
A defect (which seems not okay).
Is failure a reflection of a defective product <product being … well … us … a human … a person>?
That seems harsh. Ok. Maybe extreme.
In terms of “truth to oneself” think about this … ‘imperfection’ points more often to a lack that may be a matter of opinion (Hayakawa).
Well. THAT certainly makes it easier to say “I am imperfect … I have failed.” Because, well, it is on a basis of opinion (and everyone has opinions).
Failure, on the other and, suggests a more severe shortcoming that has more severe consequences.
How ‘bout that?
There is some tough love.
The word failure is tough love.
A severe shortcoming.
And if you have a shortcoming … well … there are consequences. In fact … more severe consequences.
And maybe in this politically correct world we want to soften up things a little … and we don’t ‘fail’ but rather we made a mistake or took a step on the path to success or whatever.
Maybe it is better to just say we failed at something.
I don’t know.
But I do believe we should be better at admitting failure. I believe it should be more acceptable to say “you failed” <without it being construed in a negative way>.
I do believe we should be better at understanding we have failings … and they have consequences.
Now. Notice. Hayakawa never, anywhere, attached “negative” or “bad” adjectives to consequences. He simply points out that failures suggest shortcomings leading to consequences.
And that, my friends, is a Life truth … and more people <in my eyes> should just step up to the plate and accept that truth without all the suggestions that they keep you from being a successful or ‘whole’ person.
We fail. And maybe it is because of some shortcoming and absolutely I am assuming that shortcoming will create at least one dead end in your life (toward some success). But it doesn’t mean that it keeps you from some other path to success.
It does not mean you are a failure. It just may mean you have failed, and you may fail consistently, if you pursue that path.
And when I went hunting I found a blog focused solely on failure. And it wasn’t bad or negative or even totally depressing.
Now. It certainly wasn’t uplifting by any stretch of the imagination but it was kind of an interesting glimpse into what I assume was a normal every day woman kind of getting a grip on life.
And this blog is her way of doing it … by embracing failure (she actually has a post called “why have a blog about failure?”: http://soyoufailed.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/why-have-a-blog-about-failure/)
As she says in her ‘about me’ section:
Who am I?
– I am female
– I’m in my mid 30′s
– I live in the Bay Area, California
– My day job is as a User Experience Designer (my 24 hour/day job is “failure” )
– I am a mother of 2 beautiful boys
– My “other” interests besides failure are photography, learning to play the guitar, and user experience design.
I loved it.
“my other interests beyond failure …” Nice perspective.
The site has glimpses of insight <albeit I wonder if writing nonstop about failure is completely healthy>. And while absolutely focused on failure, which I equate to a songwriter trying to write every song about a falling star <or God>, there are truly some nice perspectives on failing.
And all written from an everyday perspective.
About a failure <she says as one of 5 things> …
5. You learned something.
And that’s what life is all about. Learning something. In failing you probably learned something about yourself, about someone else, about a situation, about how to do something better next time. Failing is so valuable. Don’t focus on the failure. Focus on what you got from that failure.
So go ahead, fail on!
(nice closing line by the way)
Life is about learning.
Life is about failure.
I imagine the corollary thought would be “how boring would life be if we never failed?” there is such a stigma attached to failure … and the word itself. In fact, to be politically correct, I probably shouldn’t use the word failure.
It would be “trial & error” (what a bunch of bullhockey).
And it’s okay to fail.
And it’s even okay to fail on some of the really Big things in life. Not that you try to … just that … well … we do.
It is called Life.
– Marriages fall apart even when you don’t really want them to.
– You try to win a game but you don’t.
– You try and lose those 10 pounds and you don’t.
– You try and be the best friend you can but miss when a good friend needs you.
Some are big things. Some are small things.
But all ‘things’ examples of failing at something.
And, once again, that’s okay. It’s cool.
You aren’t a failure just because you failed.
And that is a big, no HUGE, distinction.
You aren’t a failure … unless … you don’t pay attention to #5 (you learned something). You just failed.
Because, in fact, some failures are just part of life.
Maybe these are “failings” rather than failures but … well … whatever. Semantics.
I guess my point here is don’t aim to fail <as if any of us actually would, huh?> but recognize you do fail. And accept it IS failing.
Here is a great example of how failure … well … happens. And we (who are perfect of course) looking at failure happening right before our eyes … need to be very very <very> careful in our judgement with regard to failings and failure.
Let me give you a really big example … a really good one … which was part of this whole ‘failure’ blog:
… my crisis started. I had reached a point where I just could not figure out what to do. I was crying and weeping and just could not calm myself down. I got to the point when I had to ask myself, “What will make you sane and get you through this moment? What will keep you from killing yourself right now?” And to me, and it is a different thing for everybody, smoking had always been the thing that I turned to when I got to such a low point. It was what got me to calm down and take a moment and just be present. For some it could be a stiff drink, a dozen donuts, or a shopping spree. For me it was smoking. So I did it. I failed my abstinence. I went to the closest Walgreens, bought a pack, and smoked a cigarette.
And I admit, I failed even more and bought two more packs to get me through lower lows these past few months. I gave myself a break. I thought, it is better to have a crutch to get through these horrible days, than to be perfect and not have a crutch and go crazy. I took it easy on myself, I “failed” myself. Or more like I let myself have what I needed. I think at some point in our lives, when we need to, we should give in to ourselves. In our darkest times, we need to stop and think about what we need to get us through it. If you need to spend $1000 on clothing to save yourself, do it.
But know when it is time to stop. Know when the break needs to be over. Know when the fail needs to stop. For me that break is over now. I need to stop smoking now, before it becomes a full blown addiction again. Before it spirals out of control. Now it is becoming less helpful and is on the brink of being harmful. And so, while it is still easy to stop, I have stopped. I no longer need my crutch. It has done its job. It has gotten me through my darkest times.
I hope that for you, when you are going through a tough time, that you are able to stop and think about what crutch you need to get you through, and that you let yourself have that and let yourself fail. But I also hope that at some point, when you are healed, you are able to gracefully lay the crutch down.
Big thought in there.
“In our darkest times, we need to stop and think about what we need to get us through it. If you need to spend $1000 on clothing to save yourself, do it.
But know when it is time to stop. Know when the break needs to be over. Know when the fail needs to stop.”
Failing always needs context.
No. It doesn’t need excuses … just context.
I wrote about this kind of thing over a year ago … I stated there and then I was wrong … wrong in a way that this blogger said it best.
Here is what I said: http://brucemctague.com/doubt-part-3-crushed-between-internal-and-external-doubt
(the key words from that post)
Do what it takes to keep it alive. Keep your sense of I and don’t lose it.
Whatever it takes.
Let me repeat.
Whatever it takes.
In the past I have judged people who have leaned on religion. Leaned on prescription drugs. Leaned on self help books. Leaned on betterment programs.
Well. I have been a fool.
A stupid ignorant fool.
For whatever path one chooses to maintain their flame is the right path. And a good path. And a path well taken.
You do whatever it takes to keep the flame alive and don’t get crushed by doubt. That’s it. Bottom line.
I didn’t know better words at that time but in my head I saw some things as “failings”, or failure, in people and was making my own judgments on their actions.
We have rules. We have guidelines. We have distinctions between what is right and wrong. And if we don’t meet them we ‘fail.’
Yes. All of that is true.
In dark times … you have to do whatever you have to do to cross that dark bridge.
Whatever. Even if it means ‘failing’ in some form or fashion. Even if it means that it LOOKS like failure in someone else’s eyes.
The blogger is right.
It is okay to fail.
Failing does not make you a failure.
By the way …. Here is the site:
I fail, you fail, we all fail. Here is our tale.