Failure is a Weapon
Some of my notes on failure
My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure. - Abraham Lincoln
I think a lot about the concept of failure. The failure to become a successful writer. A successful human being. The failure to thrive. The failure to keep from disappointing everyone I love. Here are some of my personal notes on the concept of failure in its various facets and forms.
- Nobody cares about your dreams. The cities of America are built on the broken dreams of broken people who were finally crushed underneath the weight of their fantasies being confronted by reality.
- Sometimes you're just not good enough to win. You’re not pretty enough. Not smart enough. You don't have the "it" factor. Just another wannabe in a sea of mediocrity. No matter how hard I try I’ll never be a great basketball player or a violinist. That shouldn’t disappoint you, though. It should move you toward doing something that you can actually achieve.
- One of the worst things about getting older is seeing how many friends, with such hopes and aspirations, give up under the crushing weight of various life challenges and failures. Not everyone makes it. Not even the ones that seem to have the most promise.
-Failure is the ultimate test of truth. None of your fanciful ideas or lofty concepts can survive failure if they’re tested in reality.
-Failure is like water. Important and necessary in small doses. Poisonous in large.
- We all experience failure in various ways and most of the time it is temporary. But failure tends to become permanent when it's tempered with anger, bitterness, and resentment. A little bit of failure can twist someone into a shadow of their former selves. They hinge their personality upon the failure itself.
-Use your failure as a weapon. Don’t take your failure and use it to justify your own laziness and ineptitude. If used correctly failure can guide you and show you where you went wrong. Like iron can be purified into steel, it can hone you into a stronger being.
- It's okay to make the wrong choice. It's not okay to be content with your wrong choice.
-Failure is always an option. If you remember that you’ll never become so complacent that you think success is inevitable, and become blindsided when it doesn’t happen.
- There are a lot of grifters out there who they think have the key to success and they'll give it to you - for a hefty fee, of course. Beware of anyone who says there are easy answers. Most of these people just make a living telling other people they should follow their dreams, without having much success of their own.
- You're alone and you're also not alone. People tend to want to help you out when they see you're trying in earnest.
- There's no amount of professional success that will cure the emptiness inside. I used to think writing and publishing a book would complete me. It doesn't. There’s more than one way to fail. Sometimes what appears to be a social success is a hidden personal failure. The money might not make you happy. The praise won’t make your children love you.
- Success almost never happens on your timeline. You are a unique individual with unique challenges, and there are near infinite variables and data points. The lessons you have to learn to become successful aren't laid out, school-plan style, for you to follow.
- When you're trying to figure out how to stop being a failure, remember this: you can't know what you don't know. If you're very lucky and good, you might at least be able to realize you don't know something and pinpoint what it is.
- Failure is a necessary process of learning. In fact, it is the only real mechanism of learning. A child has to fall in order to walk. You have to write a lot of bad sentences to write a good one. But it's not clear at which point failure is a stepping stone to success, or failure itself is your legacy.
- Your personal failure sometimes mean the continued success of the species. Society can often learn from the failure of a single person. Throughout the millennia a trillion organisms had to die in order for you to live. Human civilization is built upon the bones of other hominids like Neanderthals and Homo erectus. And so a lot of us will have to die along the way toward humanity steering itself toward a better future. Maybe one day we will even bring superintelligent machines into the world, and our greatest gift to the universe will be going extinct so that our superior children can live in our stead.
- It takes years to build something worthwhile. It only takes a second to ruin your life.
- Despite the inescapable odds against so many of us, it seems the only real option in the face of failure is to keep trying. The weight of failure is so ugly that it casts a pall on everything. If you succumb to failure so hard that you stop trying, then you too, become something ugly.
- Failure and death should frighten you. But they are also so common, so ordinary, so very not special. Success is what's special. Success is what's rare.