Apologies.  I had every intention of writing an original post (about self pity no less) over the weekened but then Dad gave me an advance copy of his new book with James Patterson, Kill Me If You Can, due out on August 29 and sorry - productive blogging lost out to reading what I will here and now claim to be THE BEACH READ OF THE SUMMER.  Exclamation point. Exclamation point. Exclamation point.

However, I am still plowing my way througk Katie Couric's The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons From Extraordinary Lives and it continues to impact me, prompting me to share other people's words until I can find my voice again to share my own.  When I read the following essay on failure by Tavis Smiley, PBS Host, Author & Philanthropist, it practically jumped off the page and shook me by the heart.   

Fail Better

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."

 

The words of the great writer and poet Samuel Beckett.  Words that I have learned to live by.

 

Anyone who has ever succeeded in any human endeavor will tell you that he learned more from his failures than he ever learned from his successes.  If he's being honest. 

 

But a funny thing happens when "success" becomes an individual's dominant definer. Very few people want to then actually acknowledge the mistakes they've made along the way.  That's unfortunate, because it promulgates an artificial concept of "success."  By articificial, I mean the notion that people become successful without what I call "success scars."  Let's be clear. There is no success without failure. Period. And usually a lot of it.

 

I used to love Michael Jordan's "Failure" commercial for Nike. You might recall it:

 

I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career.

I've lost almost 300 games.

Twenty-six times I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot...and missed.

I've failed over and over and over again in my life.

And that is why I succeed.

 

Powerful stuff.

 

When you think about it, Beckett was right. Life is ultimately about failing better. Every day that you wake up, you get another chance to get it right. To fail better. We have to learn to think of failure in a different way. To think of failure as a friend, really.  A friend who, if embraced, can usher us into new experiences, exposures and excellencies.

 

Just look around-- there are examples everywhere of people who have failed up.  Others have done it, and you can, too.

I am the first one to tell people that I don't do something if I think I might fail. As an OCD, overly-neurotic perfectionist, failure is simply not an option.  But thanks to Tavis Smiley, I am going to stop thinking of failure as an enemy, and start thinking of failure as a necessary part of the path to a more successful life.

PS If you're like me, you don't remember the Michael Jordan "Failure" commercial for Nike. Thank God for ex PayPal employees with something to prove for YouTube:

 

2 Comments

So spot on. And SMART. Thank you for the reminder that success isn't the only goal and that the stumbles along the way contribute to success.

Man I sure hope this sinks in. Because I could really use it to sink in about now. Too many failures and immenent failures to calculate right now and I really need to understand this. I hope I do!

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