The Word We Love to Hate and Why We Shouldn’t Hate it
Failure. What a word. The sound of it can deliver a quiver along a student’s spine, a quickening of heartbeat in the newly employed, and a vision of doom in the dreamer’s mind. We tiptoe delicately around Sir Failure, lest the hem of our pants brush the accursed cloak of this particular devil. We whisper nervously around him as well. Our words are soft yet jagged. We don’t want him to stalk and swallow us—because if he does, then we will be forced to crawl into the belly of humiliation and despair.
Like all other humans, I occasionally become lunch for Sir Failure. Once I am in his belly, I kick and scream and then fall into an exhausted heap of self-pity. Sir Failure chuckles heartily at my behavior. He likes that I finally surrendered to his exploits.
I am mentioning this, because it’s usually after the respite of the Chagim when our lives begin to settle, and Sir Failure materializes again. His eyes are constantly roaming the landscape for a daily feast. The New Year’s novel situations (a sweat-inducing college class, a demanding new job, or a budding yet fragile relationship) can often trigger thoughts of potential failure: What if Astro-Physics butchers my GPA? What if my employer pulls a fast Donald Trump on me and declares “You’re fired!” with a pointed finger and a blazing stare? What if I spill Coke on my date’s shirt, inadvertently insult his mother’s cooking, and then snort when I laugh?
Whether one’s concerns are trivial or significant, the fear of failure can gnaw painfully on his or her inner peace and composure. In fact, that's what Sir Failure is really after: Injecting you with the fear of erring, stumbling, and breaking apart. In this way you can cuddle into the safety of mediocrity, the confinement of caution, and cast wary eyes on to everything that is unfamiliar.
Below is a clip from J.K. Rowling’s (A.K.A. my heroine!) Harvard Commencement delivered in 2008. It’s definitely worth a listen. (Even a hundred listens). In this clip, she discusses the “benefits of failure.” (I recommend listening to the entire commencement address. It can be easily found on YouTube. You don’t have to be a Harry Potter fan for this—her words are timeless in their wisdom and deeply sincere).
We hope you liked this. Until next time!