The Importance of Failure

If the title makes you wonder, well an explanation will follow. Since September started I have focused on two things in particular, namely first focus on school and do everything that has to be done. The second thing I focus on is balance, more specifically balancing sleep, diet, coffee, pleasure and relations. Student life can be very hard and very demanding. Lately I have emphasised getting things done and most of the time I am successful. In the past though I often failed and thus in this post I dedicate my words to failure.

Failure or the act of failing is the opposite of success or the act of succeeding.  In informal English the expression “fucking up” and “screwing up” are often used to express failure. In management the word “under-performance” is often used. “Mismanagement” or “under-achievement” are also good euphemisms for the word failure. The abbreviation F.U.B.A.R. means “fucked up beyond all recognition”. My personal favourite expressions for failure are simple, “it did not work” or “… is not effective”.

First of all to fail happens to everybody. People make mistakes, something goes wrong and then a solution is required, in short problem-solution. Life generally does not get any simpler than that. To deny this fact of life is an act of stupidity in my opinion. In life there are many things out of your control and whether you accept that or not, something can and will always go wrong at some point. Failure is part of life.

Second, people learn from their mistakes. The ability to learn is directly connected to one’s failure and success during practice. When I want to learn how to write, I have to write until I get it right more times than I get it wrong. Every time I fail, I have to learn from it to avoid the failure and improve. Now the example of writing is simple. Thing is, just think about it from a nature versus nurture perspective. From the moment you are born you learn and adapt in the way you learn to walk and in the way you learn a trade. Failure is part of the human learning process.

Third, success stories only tell half of the stories. Many people who are good at what they do, have become good at what they do through a process of failure and success before achieving their set goals. I find success stories the least interesting stories. Stories of failure are much more interesting in my opinion as they can clarify processes of how a problem has led to a solution.

Personally, before I had the guts to write for an audience of many people I hardly know, I was often afraid. I often failed and I insecurely kept on going. Fear and insecurity are part of life and how you handle them is up to you. I made the choice to tell myself “fuck me, whether I fail or not, I will learn from the experience and improve” and that is why I do the things I do. As a kid I have experienced that failure and success happen in an instant and in that instant you decide.

In the future I do not want to be afraid of failure. I simply cannot afford to. There is nothing to enjoy when all you do is avoiding even the slightest hint of risk in life. My scope on life is quite simple, namely “whatever I do I want to become good at it and always have a plan B and plan C ready. Whatever happens, it happens and I just have to learn from it.”

It might sound strange, but I am grateful I failed in the past. I have failed hard and there is still so much to learn. Say what you want, failure is important…