Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How To Fail Successfully

It looks like I've chosen the once-a-month blogging option.  Sorry about that, folks.

But, to be honest, I've slipped into "emergency mode" it seems like, so only those urgent activities get done.  Unfortunately, this makes me a terrible blogger.  Even my writing has suffered.  I'm a failure.

But I'm proud that I'm a failure, too.  Because failure is good for you.

Seriously, it is.  I really I mean it.  No, it's true.  If you can fail, you can do anything.  That's a mantra we should all adopt.

Okay, you can stop laughing now.

I've been thinking about this recently as I deal with my children and the bane of their existence: homework.  I have a few boys (okay, all of them) who struggle with homework.  One can't quite grasp the material and needs a lot of help figuring it out, another already knows the material and sees no reason for doing it since it's too easy, and one is too busy pursuing other interests and forgets to make the time for homework.  And so, recently all have failed to turn in homework on time.  

But two of them have been changed by their failure.  Both paid the consequences of their failure--one wasn't able to attend his weekly floor hockey activity, and the other lost his weekly computer privileges--and both realized that they were in charge of their individual destinies.  It was an empowering experience for both the them, thanks to failure.  Now both are much more dedicated to getting their work done without nagging from Mommy Dearest.  (We're still holding out hope for the third.  He's still young.)

Sometimes I think we see failure as, well, failure.  But it's not.  It's still success.  Because each time you fail, you learn.  And learning is really what life is all about, isn't it?  To grow, to progress, to learn, these are what I believe we are really here for.

So, lately, I've been failing spectacularly in the writing department. And I'm proud of it. Though I've made no progress on paper, I'm still progressing.  Instead I've learned how to be a better mother, a better wife, a better gardener, and that, in turn, will make me a better writer.  

So go ahead and fail. It will be good for you.


  1. We need a new term: "failer" instead of "failure." As in, I'm a failer because occasionally my attempts fail. Failure sounds so...final. ;)

  2. I really love the idea of 'progressing, though not necessarily on paper'! I think that is something we writers often forget - that to be great at writing, we have to also improve at living spherically, so we can incorporate those experiences into our writing. Awesome post, Elissa!

  3. Laurie--YES! I'm a FAILER. I love it!

    Jess--Thanks. I have to remind myself, too, that I'm progressing even if it seems like I've stalled. Success isn't always measured by word count. ;)

  4. A good reminder, Elissa, of what I always tell my kids -- making mistakes, struggling, working through those times is how we learn to improve at whatever we're doing. Why don't I ever listen to myself? LOL

  5. For something that is ‘good for you’ I wish everyone a whole lot less of it... Struggling, yes. Failure? Can't bring myself to be as detached as you have managed to. Not evolved enough.

  6. Jennifer-I think we all have trouble listening to ourselves. Glad I could help with a friendly reminder! ;)

    Mirka-Nonsense. You're plenty evolved, and I think it's perfectly okay to disagree with my stance on failure and still be an intelligent creature. Either way you look at it, you're right that something that is good for you doesn't mean you need a lot of it! Thanks for commenting!

  7. Great post, Elissa! YAY for Failers! I'm a big one, too.

  8. Kimbereley-YAY for all the Failers in the world! :) Though I can't imagine how you have time to fail. You are the busiest person I know. And that's saying a lot, because most people tell me I'm the busiest person they know! ;)

  9. I definitely think it's important to experience failure. I've cried a lot of tears in this industry, but my successes wouldn't mean as much without them, so I'm glad to experience it all.

  10. Kelly, I know exactly what you mean. I met a writer once who has never received a rejection in her entire writing career, and she mentioned that she wished she'd failed at least once, because growing was difficult when everything comes easy. True words.