Failing to Fail

I do not like failure. I do not like taking a bunch of pieces out of a box and finding out that there is no way they will ever come to resemble the picture on the front of the box. I do not like forgetting to pick up the milk on the way home from town. I do not like becoming frustrated with my small child because he/she does not understand the difference between a crescent wrench and wire-cutters. I do not like completely misunderstanding the need of a friend or staring at my wife while wondering how I just got something entirely backward.

I doubt that any of you reading this are fond of failure–at least not your own failures. Failure is painful and embarrassing and brings out the worst in us for others to view in living color–and it helps us grow.

We did not need to buy more house than we can afford, but we can learn from the pain of foreclosure how to live within our means. We did not need to elect a neophyte for President, but now we know exactly what happens when a midshipman takes over as captain of the vessel. We did not have to make any of the myriad poor decisions which have brought us as a country to this current state. But we did.

The worst thing which we can do now is to hold to the falsehood that we have not failed, that we are not responsible for our childish actions, that stuff just happened to all of us over which we have no control. But, you say, “the system failed me” or “my family failed me” or even “the government failed me.”

You may be right. All of those things might have failed–but unless and until each person takes responsibility for his or her own failures, we are stuck.

I do not want to fail. You do not want to fail. I do not want you to fail. But if we do not learn to accept our failure as ours, we’ll never be successful.

2 thoughts on “Failing to Fail

  1. Two sayings from my childhood (my mother was given to colorful metaphors):

    Pain teaches – avoid the pain, avoid the lesson. (A corollary I’ve used with my own kids is: “You can learn from my pain or yours, but I recommend the former.”)

    S**t will happen. You can either make it fertilizer to help you grow, or just live in a pile of s**t – your call.

    I vote for the fertilizer route.

    1. We should be doing much learning these days, because there is plenty of pain to go around.

      It would seem that your mother knew fertilizer (and people). Would that more of us had such a clear understanding.

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