Failure: Getting It Right

It has been said that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right. There are many worthy endeavors in this life; learning to tie our shoes, spelling our names correctly, standing in line without complaining. These are some of the earliest things I remember having to make an earnest effort to do. Feeding ourselves, walking, talking – these activities come naturally, more or less. Once we master them, we move on to greater life lessons and strive to do our best. More or less.

Those of us who grew up before the age of the “everyone’s a winner” piffle got to fully experience the agony of defeat, but on those occasions when we were ushered into the light to bask in the glory of success, it was good. Not virtually the same as good, but REAL GOOD, and that was good enough. I don’t know at what point my best efforts began to seem to so regularly fall short of achieving results that were good enough. I am certain that failure was a part of everyday life growing up. Falling into the hedges while learning to ride a bike and face planting into the sidewalk on roller skates are two specific failures I have overcome. I have the scars to prove it.

Other childhood failures, like losing my lunchbox, resulted in hunger and being distracted by a headache, unable to focus on important things like book reports and long division. Leaving behind on the bus some souvenirs that I bought for my brothers and sisters while on a class trip to the Grand Ole Opry resulted in gifts never bestowed, but more importantly, no praise for my thoughtfulness and generosity.

That might have been the first time I ever said damn it! And it was probably the first time the results of failure became a real concept to me. Negative consequences such as loss and disappointment are only emotional responses. Failure’s causes and consequences are not the subject of this post, but it’s the act of failing that has value because our response to it defines us, even if only temporarily.

I dare not try to list my failures, great and small, which accumulate and dissipate with surprising regularity. They crash together in a heap on the floor one day and float away on a breeze the next. They whisper and shadow and try to claim a sentimental spot in a shoebox under my bed. I have to constantly kick them to the curb. I have the scars to prove that too. They are not worthy of my constant attention, but an honest recognition of them is what keeps me true to the value of living an authentic life. My failures are my own; to hold or hurl as I see fit.

To work toward a goal, make the most of every day and truly appreciate the people who let us become part of their lives are all worthy endeavors, but we fail at them. We promise to do better, but we fail at keeping that promise too. We use the statement “we are only human” as an excuse for bad behavior until it becomes our fallback position whenever we don’t want to hold ourselves accountable for failure. Instead, I believe it is because we are human that we can recover and move beyond failure. Each time with a greater sense of what it is we need to do to be ready for success.

Whatever that happens to mean.

That said, success means something different to me every day. Not doing some things, doing other things. Some days it’s simply maintaining my composure while waiting for what seems like an eternity at a red light. I don’t think of success as the opposite of failure, but as a reward for doing my best to accept failure and get over it. No easy task, but worth the effort any day of the week.

This week my effort resulted in some unexpected and genuinely appreciated recognition. I’d like to thank Randall A. Golden for this award. His blog is Midlife Crisis Crossover. Being a person of a certain age myself, there is no shortage of factoids to share with you, my dear readers. Here are seven, not necessarily inspiring or remotely fascinating, things that I like:

1. baby lima beans

2. sending letters old school style via the post office

3. water skiing

4. classic cars

5. Rush (the band)

6. green (traffic) lights

7. porch swings

Here are fifteen very inspiring photo blogs. Some I have mentioned before and others I just recently discovered. Check them out, they may inspire you too. Peace.

Failure on so many levels
Up a creek without a creek – feet don’t fail me now!
And another thing…
What we have here is a failure to communicate
Fail-safe  Storm Shelter

10 thoughts on “Failure: Getting It Right

  1. Love that V8 – but that Caddy Ambulance is Suuueeeet! I was talking with a friend yesterday about the importance of failure – I worry that we have coddled a generation who won’t understand that failure is a part of life. As always you’ve got me thinking. Thanks for the shout out.

    1. I know! I get lucky like that sometimes. My husband knows to slow down just enough for me to jump out when we come across shots like that.

      It’s kinda hard to explain to our kids that failure doesn’t have to throw us into a complete tailspin, even now that they are adults. They both have great character, I just think they sometimes fall into that “all or nothing” mindset that we all do, from time to time.

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