Embracing Failure

geoff bruges

A man with a manual: ‘How to be a human?’

I think we all know how important it is to fail. Stumbling first steps to inadequate first kisses, we live in a world where we wear our failures as both badges of honour on the way up the mountain and scars on the heart as we embrace our limitations.

Today my failures have been small and numerous: not the number of sit ups I had in mind, not starting writing as soon as I planned, not sorting out those windows locks, not persuading a friend of the rightness of my views, not… On it goes. Perhaps it should be easier for us older souls to accept failures with the same alacrity that we have to accept time speeds up as we age. We pile up the years so the next one is but a small proportion of the ones already gone and thus seems closer than the last. So it should be with failures, which we toss into that sack called ‘experience’. Though sadly said sack seems merely to weigh us down with the inertia of our ‘wisdom’.

I read a postΒ (the stimulus for this post) by a blogging friend and fellow author, Ruth Sutton who undertook to run a workshop on self publishing. Β It touches on one of those pieces of received wisdom, namely the under 30s are more computer savvy than we with more sepia tones. And it looks at this fear of failure. Please go and check it out (and her books which I’ve read and which are damn good). Is it an inelasticity of mind, a stiffening of the fingers or a fear of failure that stops us grasping newer concepts?

As I scan the blogland horizon, people of all ages, educations and energies are getting online and enjoying the experience. It seems to me that there is a self limiting mindset, this terror of failure when it comes to the online world; a fear of pressing the wrong button and single handedly exploding the whole of the World Wide Web that holds people back – and this isn’t just an age thing.

Norah Colvin has written here of the ‘Not Yet’ idea in education – you’ve not failed if you ‘only’ get a D or 35%, but rather you’ve not yet got an A or 75%. The same applies to each and everyone of us. We need this ‘not yet’ mentality throughout our lives.

As I pondered my inability move from the breakfast table, I read in the paper that we British fear failure more than the Americans which is what holds us back. We need to be more gung-ho. In Silicon valley they want to know your biggest ten, multi million dollar failures because only then will your successes be true. Maybe this isn’t just an age thing but a national one.

Maybe it’s in our natures, this reluctance. Maybe, to misquote Churchill when talking about his Labour Party rival, Clement Atlee ‘we are a modest nation with a lot to be modest about.’

I hope not. I hope the current and future generations embrace failure with gusto. Just have a go. The Bloody Lawyer got me bungee jumping last December after all. And, damn him, I enjoyed it. After that even I can face upgrading to Windows 10. Or maybe I’ll just leave that in the ‘not yet’ pile.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published two anthologies of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand and Life in a Flash. More will appear soon, including a memoir of my mother's last years. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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36 Responses to Embracing Failure

  1. Sue Vincent says:

    Was it Edison who said he had not failed, just foundthousands of ways that don’t work, or some such? Look at all the creativity in those umpteen ‘failures’! I don’t think it is a confidence thing, or even an age thing, more a cultural problem where success is almost seen as bad form; a notion imbued early on that sticks and builds high and immovable fences deep within the boundaries what should the true limits of our abilities.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. willowdot21 says:

    Go on upgrade to window10 I did as soon as was humanly possible or is that cyberly possible and I love it!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. willowdot21 says:

    OH! the shame I left the s off of windows10…. will I be blogbusted now?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. davidprosser says:

    I’m nailing my colours to the mast and the colours are all shades of yellow. I’m a technological eedjit and shouldn’t be allowed to touch anything.


  5. Ula says:

    I upgraded to Windows 10 because I was having many issues with my previous system. We suspect a bug must have deleted some essential files. And now my computer runs much better. What I’m trying to say is that it isn’t all bad like we read. Taking risks is worth it. I’m a big fan of risks and failure. I risked everything and moved to Poland, a country many people want to leave. I now know I can live anywhere. Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Ali Isaac says:

    I’d leave that last one in the ‘not ever’ pile, if I were you, Geoff! 😊 A very contemplative post today…


  7. Charli Mills says:

    Interesting thoughts. Sometimes I think Americans are too “happy” to just be comfortable and not risk that happiness on failure to find something deeper than a home in the suburbs and a miserable job with the health or insurance industry. I do admire entrepreneurs who can balance that pioneering spirit with treating people well and serving others. I like the “not yet” idea that Norah brought to light from education because it sounds determined to not let failure be an end result. I’ve lost my way in writing since the beginning of the year for various excuses and perceived failures. I have to remind myself that often failure is a perception. I’m learning to say, not yet. Then today I read this article and it really validated the pursuit of writing for me — it’s not a pursuit of happiness (success); it’s the pursuit of meaning. Take a read: http://www.businessinsider.com/a-lesson-about-happiness-from-a-holocaust-survivor-2014-10

    Liked by 4 people

  8. julitownsend says:

    I love this post.
    I can look back on my life and see a series of incidents where I let fear govern how I responded to a situation, and now I regret those choices. As a result, whenever I feel fear stopping me from doing what I think is right now, I do it anyway, and so far I’ve been pleased with the results.
    After an initial hesitation, I downloaded Windows 10… and if I’d read this post in the first three days after the download, I would have screamed, ‘don’t do it’… but on day four, I tried restarting my computer and everything magically came good. I now like Windows 10. I suspect it hadn’t downloaded completely to begin with for some reason.
    My advice – fight the fear, do the download, but don’t hurry it. Good luck.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Interesting post. I think we put way too much pressure on ourselves. What is success after all? It’s different for everybody. To try, to take that step, is an achievement in itself – even if we don’t meet our own high standards πŸ˜€

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Reblogged this on graemecummingdotnet and commented:
    For some strange reason, I’ve found myself reading stuff from Geoff on three different blog sites this morning (and I’ve only read three posts). As ever, all were entertaining, but this one seemed to fit right in with some of the “life lesson” posts I’ve included in my site over the last couple of years. In fact, as Sue remarked in the comments, it reminds me of Edison. So, when you’ve finished reading Geoff’s post, you might be interested in this old one of mine on a similar theme…


    Liked by 2 people

  11. Norah says:

    Hi Geoff. Thanks for the mention and the link. I’m pleased the ‘not yet’ philosophy appeals to you as much as it does to me. The different perspectives of different ages is interesting, particularly when you know that each day more brings less. The fear of clicking the wrong button or following the wrong link I think is probably attributable to level of experience as much as to age. I think when we started in computers there was more chance of deleting something and it being lost forever. Now nothing is irretrievable. Nothing can be erased. That is the scary bit!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I was a at a talk by the author Sebastian Faulks who told he was in discussion about passing his archive to the British Library. ‘I don’t have any of the drafts’ he says. ‘Don’t worry,’ they reply, ‘ give us your computers and we will retrieve them all’. Scary indeed.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Autism Mom says:

    I don’t really buy into the “British fear of failing” theory – a people cannot accomplish what Britain has regularly accomplished over the last 1000 years by being afraid to take risks.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Sacha Black says:

    Interesting… Yet most of the people I know in blogland are… Ahem… Older than me… So maybe it’s an assumed fear of failure, because from where I’m sat y’all are all smashing it….

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Sacha Black says:

    Interesting and yet most of the people I know in blogland are… Ahem… Older than me… So from where I’m sat, y’all are smashing it! Maybe it’s just a assumed perception of fear ?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Loved this – I know so many people who accept average because of the fear of failure…


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