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 post (the stimulus for this post) by a blogging friend and fellow author, Ruth Sutton who undertook to run a workshop on self publishing. 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.