Human Condition, Tiny Treasures, Uncategorized
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If You’re Failing, You’re Doing Ok

success failure

During one piano recital I was so nervous that as soon as my fingers hit the keys, I completely forgot how to play. I was just pushing at keys – at that moment I was blind, the music infront of me meant nothing, and my fingers were temporarily disconnected from my hand. I was lost. Nevertheless, I tried again. My second attempt didn’t fare well either. I tried again, and again, and finally I got to playing my piece.

It would have been much easier, and much less embarrassing to have left. My parents, peers, and teachers were in the audience, waiting to hear what the many years of piano lessons had left me with. When I finished my piece, I bowed, and walked back to them musicians room. It was grim, but at one point my friend came up to me and said, “if that was me I would have just left, but you actually stayed there until you got it right.” After that my music teacher and piano teacher said the same thing. Had I left it would have been even worse, staying, at least I got to prove to everyone and to myself that I was indeed capable of playing my piece, and I was just very nervous.

“We should not feel embarrassed by our difficulties, only by our failure to grow anything beautiful from them” – Alain de Botton

In 1995, a man known as McArthur Wheeler covered his face in lemon juice and proceeded to rob a bank. His belief was simple: since lemon juice can be used as invisible ink, it could therefore prevent his face from being recorded on the bank’s surveillance cameras. His belief, however, was also terribly misinformed, a consequence of his lack of self-insight. Kruger and Dunning say that it’s because those who are unskilled are also unaware. So then maybe if we think that we don’t measure up, it maybe means that we’re probably doing ok.

It is important for entrepreneurs to not get discouraged if an idea fails or if a venture doesn’t go ahead. It may take hundreds of great ideas before you have one that works. Turning ideas into businesses usually involves convincing others that your idea is great. This isn’t easy. Very few people will be able to see your vision. – Ruslan Kogan  of Kogan.com 

In an interview with the BBC, Donna Tartt was explaining her writing process during the Goldfinch. At one point during her writing, she had realised her story was heading in the wrong direction — it was about 8 months of work. But, without having gone there, she would not have known in exactly in which direction she needed to proceed in. It’s a little bit like Hemingway’s idea of the iceberg because as creators there is a great deal of preparation that goes into work, this is floating beneath the surface, but it’s what supports what’s above the surface — the finished product.

We are wrongly conditioned into thinking that failure is negative. On the contrary, if the words above are a guide at all, they demonstrate that failure is part of the progression to success. While we may think that it would be easier to succeed at first, we would lose the opportunity understand why something worked. When we fail, we learn, and when we learn we know how to navigate ourselves, our ideas, thoughts and musings through a more clearly defined pathway.

When we stop and give up, that is the only true failure.

Image: ADoseofShipBoy / Flickr CC

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