Friday, April 1, 2011

Failing by default

I've just read a quote attributed to J K Rowling in which she said something about not being able to go through life without failing at something and that if you don't fail, you're probably living your life so cautiously you fail by default (my interpretation and paraphrasing). The concept started me thinking. Does that mean you have to fail at things regularly in order to be considered to be living life fully? I would find that demoralising.

I like to think that we learn how not to fail as we go through life; we learn how to do things better so our chances of success increase. We discover our strengths and weaknesses and exploit one and improve or compensate for the other. Of course that could also mean we also learn how not to expose ourselves to things we'll fail at; become more cautious. But is cautiousness a failure or a desirable skill?

I live cautiously. Any risks I take are calculated and manageable. I don't want to crash and burn - been there, done that, not going back. There are aspects of my life that I want to change and improve - I just don't have time to arrange it right now. Generally though, my life is where I want it to be. I'm working full time in a job I love; I'm studying in an area I enjoy; I'm writing, which I adore; and I'm even submitting work occasionally. I have family and friends - all really special people I'm proud to know.  Why on earth would I want any of that to fail, just so I could say I 'live', at least according to the definition in that quote?

9 comments:

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Observer003 - Earthlings said...

It seems like you're confusing failure with a complete crash and burn. You can fail at little things, like baking a pie, without destroying your life. It's true that as we go through life we learn how to do more things, so perhaps we "fail" less at them. (We all failed a lot at walking before we got it right.) But it sounds like Rowling is saying is just to go out and try whatever looks interesting. You're almost guaranteed to "fail" at any new thing you try. So what. Try it again. And get a sense of humor about it.

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buddha idol lover said...

we can make mistakes in life but each time make a different one so that we can learn new lessons

Allison said...

I think that the point is that you live life cautiously because you DO know what it is like to crash and burn. That's what taught you. What if you, lets say, did everything right and always had success? What then? Well, this website tells you.

http://doodlelyn.hubpages.com/hub/How-Adversity-Makes-You-Strong

If you don't want to go all the way there, I'll explain it here. A man found a butterfly struggling with a cocoon. He wanted to watch the butterfly break free and spread it's wings and fly, so he watched for a while. However, the butterfly appeared to not be making any progress, so he took some scissors and cut away the cocoon. When he saw the butterfly, he was disappointed, because it had scrawny wings and a plump belly. He watched the butterfly struggle for the brief remainder of its life. The man didn't know that struggling through the cocoon would have made the butterfly beautiful and have big wings.

The person who wrote this said a lot of stuff after the story that I don't find relevant to your post, but what I can say is that struggles make us strong and it's not bad to take risks if it means you can live happier.

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