I read lots of thoughtful posts and memes about—
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
― Thomas A. Edison
I really need to find the source on that, I like to often quote Abe Lincoln and his “You can trust everything you find on the internet” proclamation. Not that I am questioning Edison, it sounds a very Edison thing to say.
Nevertheless, I want to point out I don’t mind the use of the word failed or failure in the context of a specific goal, project, or business. I just don’t think of the word as being entirely negative as I feel is sometimes the supposition of many dogooder comments “You never failed if you learned something”.
Here are two examples of my failures.
Retail startup—My first business failed miserably, no dodging that one. It simply did. I failed to create a viable ongoing business. At the same time I learned so much. I learned so many things I should not do again, a few things I did do right, and even more that I should do on future ventures. Had my goal been to learn a lot of hard lessons in a very short time I would have had resounding success and been able to go on to publish and present a PhD level course on all I had learned.
Language learning—I have had the goal to learn Spanish and German. Yep, I have had those goals for 20+ years. And I have failed. I cannot even legitimately claim to have learned anything more than if you really want something it takes lots of hard work. Of course, that is a very good lesson to learn.
Sure you and I could both spin these into great lessons learned with some claiming that the value of the learning makes them not a failure, but the truth of the matter is, as outcomes, neither were or have been favorable based on the desired outcome. As for my life as a whole, they have proved to be great stumbling blocks from which I can choose to learn and grow. As such, I would not ask that I had not experienced those failures.
I fully expect when I try new and challenging things failures will come, yet lessons learned will be applied to future endeavors with the hope that failures come less and less in each area I focus.