Sunday, August 26, 2012

Successful Failure - Part 1

There is nothing I do perfectly.  Nothing.  This is true of every nook and cranny of my life.  I am not a perfect husband, father, son, manager, neighbor, writer, handyman, friend, employee, driver, beekeeper, lover, musician, or Christian.   I’m sure I missed some.  I’m not a perfect list-maker either. 

I swing hard.  Sometimes I make contact.  Sometimes I fan the air.  I’m not alone.  Even all-stars strike out.  Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals rookie phenom and recently named all-star, struck out five times in one game this season.  Five times.  In nine innings.  Every at bat. I could do as well for a fraction of his contact.  And I have.  I’ve whiffed more times than I can count, though mine aren’t on the diamond.  I’m not always 0 for 5, but I’ve had my stretches. 

I swallow the compliment and blurt out the criticism.  I make a joke of something serious, and am overly sensitive to what was meant as a joke.  I am too lenient in one scenario and too harsh in another.  I set goals and then fall short.  I miss the teachable moment, come up short as the spiritual leader, and waste time on fruitless endeavors.  I forget to take out the trash.  That’s a lot of strikes.  In league with Bryce Harper.

Of course, not all failure is the same.  There is a difference between trying and failing and failing to try.  Sometimes I go down swinging.  I take a chance.  Do something different.  Take action.  I know that if I want to accomplish anything of significance, I have to take the bat off my shoulder.  But when I swing, there is always the chance that I will miss.  At least I tried.  Other times I go down looking. My bat resting on my shoulder.  I don’t even try – because of fear, or poor preparation, or bad judgment.  I’m more comfortable with the former and more familiar with the latter.  But the end result is the same.  A strike out is a strike out, whether swinging or looking.  I shuffle back to the dug out, head hung low.

So here’s the path of growth I want - As maturity increases, failure decreases.  The more I grow, the less I fail.  Closer and closer to perfection.  Only, it hasn’t worked this way. Instead, as soon as I gain competence in one area, another area is exposed, rife with opportunity for failure.  Forty years old and failure is just a common as ever.  The path I’m on is not leading me further away from failure. 
So if I can’t distance myself from it, maybe I can ally myself with it.  Is it possible that failure could be my friend?  I hope so.  

This summer I haven’t posted much on my blog (failure?).  Long hours at the pool have made for short hours at the computer.  But though I haven’t posted much, I have written a good deal and a lot of that has been on the topic of failure.  I’m not entirely sure why.  I wouldn’t say this summer has been characterized by failure any more than other recent summers.  Regardless, my thoughts have not been on wallowing in failure but on reflecting on how failure can be helpful.  I hope to flesh that out in the next few posts. 

I’m going to try to get back to weekly posting.   This post will be the jump start.  With a goal established, I’m perfectly set up for failure.  But at least in this case, I'll go down swinging.

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