Monday, November 10, 2014

Failing is the Best Possible Thing for You

I have a quote from Wendell Mayes on my office wall- "You're only willing to succeed to the same degree you're willing to fail." I read it often. I read it when I'm about to send a short story out to a  new magazine and I'm hesitating because I'm afraid of them saying no. I read it when I think that the new novel I've started is far too ambitious for my writing skills and it might never find a publisher. I read it when I'm preparing for a speech or panel discussion where I know people in the audience are far more accomplished than I am.

I remind myself when I read that quote, that if I want to accomplish anything, I have to accept that if it is tough, if it is new to me, if it is intimidating- that's a good thing. That means I'm stretching myself. That means I'm at that wonderful edge where success and failure are only centimetres apart, but the only place where learning and growth can take place. And it reminds me that failure at that edge is not a bad thing. It's okay. At that edge we must fail and fail until we succeed, and then the edge moves out a bit more, and we must run at it head first once again.

Society teaches us failing is bad. And so we get a bit of success, and then just keep doing that thing over and over and live in our mediocre success filled world. For me that's not living. Living is growing, and growing requires us to reach and sometimes to fall.

I'm thinking of this after the workshop I did for primary kids at the library in Maun during the Maun International Arts Festival. I read them a story and then asked them to review it. When it came time to read their reviews, they didn't want to. They were scared they'd got it wrong, that maybe their opinion was not the "correct" one. They were afraid that they would fail. Because of that they couldn't act. They were stopped like statues. It was one of the saddest things I'd seen for a long time.

Let's fail. Let's fail big.Like my quote says, only big success comes from being able to accept that big failure is also an option. That's okay. I'm fine with that. I'm willing to take that risk.
What about you?


Tania Hershman said...

Like it. I agree - I always think of the Beckett quote: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better." I suspect I don't fail enough - or that my bizarre experiments are given a kind reception by those who like my writing anyway. It's a funny one. Thanks for raising this, it's important.

groovyoldlady said...

Fail gracefully and learn from your mistakes. Then, once you're over the first pang, have a good laugh at yourself and go at it again!

Lauri said...

Hello Groovy and Tania, long time no "see". How are you two???

Take those risks ladies! I'm a chronic failure but in the mix are a few successes too.