on the topic of failure

i’ve failed.

in my life… i’ve messed up, dropped the ball, and made the wrong call. i’ve received an F, been fired, been ticketed (never arrested), been bruised and battered. i’ve lost and have been picked last. missed my plane/ride/boat/ship, and put many things together incorrectly… and i embrace every one of them still.

success – or rightness – is clearly preferable and i’ve had a lot of those too. but for whatever reason, when i succeed, my past successes don’t percolate up to reinforce what a great person i am. when i fail, however, past mistakes seem to remind themselves to me. too often, failure is the he-who-shall-not-be-named topic of business and life. that’s a shame.

one of my favorite authors is a guy named Richard Moran. he’s written several books and all are worthy reads. in one, he pens this axiom: “Business is made up of ambiguous victories and nebulous defeats. Claim them all as victories.” wise words on the surface and they become stronger if you take them to heart. constant success is boring and it stagnates progress. failure needs to be recognized and, dare i say it, rewarded.

The conventional view is that someone with a near-perfect GPA will become a near-perfect employee. Yet, there is a glaring flaw in this reasoning. A straight-A student is not a perfect person but someone who has never done badly in a course. This means that they have never really been tested. If they have not been tested to the extent of receiving at least some weak grades, then they missed out on learning to cope with failure. —  Nigel Barber, Ph.D

about a year ago, forbes posted online an article that spoke of five major benefits of failure. my favorite one is freedom. paraphrasing, accepting your failures is a liberating act that baselines your self (intentionally not yourself) with the rest of humanity. it tells you that you’re not 10-feet tall and bullet-proof; it reminds you that perfection is still an elusive goal.

as it should be.



One thought on “on the topic of failure

  1. Pingback: on the topic of consulting | jafb: thoughts, finds and commentary

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