We recently had two guest speakers in class, Peter Popovich and Tom Wright, who spoke with us about failure and its blessings. While they were mostly focused on the business aspects of success and failure, their talk came at a fortuitous time for me. Two points really stood out for me. I love the following quote, as I tend to confuse being a failure with failing.
Notice the difference between what happens when a man says to himself,
“I have failed three times,” and what happens when he says, “I am a
– S.I. Hayakawa
The second point that Peter made was avoiding fear - of failure, of losing, of things not working out perfectly. Replacing the word "fear" with curiosity is an interesting mental trick, and one that I will definitely try to use.
They also recommended The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharpe, which discusses the inevitability of failure. Again, this is something with which I really struggle. I have such a hard time accepting any failure, however minor. Small setbacks tend to send me into a tailspin, and I struggle against the temptation to label myself a failure.
I wrote the above quote on a post-it note and stuck it to my mirror. It's my goal to see failure as an opportunity, not as the end of the world. I didn't fail in leaving my job - I simply opened up a plethora of new opportunities.
What does failure mean to you? Do you feel comfortable taking risks, even with the possibility of not succeeding?