Everything is an experiment. Tibor Kalman
There is scarcely any passion without struggle.
– Albert Camus
We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing. George Bernard Shaw
A thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions – as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all.
There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
The final chapter in this Failure Judo series is perhaps the most important, as well as the most often forgotten. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the doing, and so caught up in the push forward, that we forget the balance of life and everything. You don’t have to believe in Chinese Mythology or Eastern Religion to acknowledge the value of Yin and Yang, or the concept that life is full of opposite things that work together by pushing in opposite directions, thereby balancing each other out. In the case of our personal growth, or striving toward a goal, it is easy to get ourselves out of balance by working nonstop, pushing harder, and never stopping.
However, if this is our philosophy, we will soon find out that being “on” all the time just leads to running out of steam, falling apart, or quitting altogether. Even the most elite athletes incorporate strategic periods of rest into their most intense periods of training. Growth in our muscles only happens when we rest. Growth in our thinking often happens in periods of quiet reflection in between activity. We need the balance of opposites, the Yin and Yang of work and rest, to help us grow through failure.
Specifically, as it relates to failure and some of the tactics of failure, this rest period is what gives us the space to make those tactics happen. If we are so busy failing, or practicing, or doing what we do, then we won’t ever have the time to sit down and unpack our learning. It’s said that Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, spent hours and hours studying game footage. This is true of many of the greats, regardless of the sport or venue.
There is a time to push forward with failure, and there is a time to rest, recover, and think. If you want to be great at anything, make sure you balance the two.
Gratitude is often caused not by gain but by loss.
— Mokokoma Mokhonoana
Don’t fear failure.
but low aim,
is the crime.
In great attempts
It is glorious
even to fail.
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” – T.S. Eliot
“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much”
This quote by Helen Keller says everything we need to know about community. While the buzzword “synergy” is a little (or a lot) played out in the business world, there is a reason it was so overused. That reason is simple: The synergy of a community of people with a common goal or interest or concern far surpasses the energy of the individuals in the community. Through some magic, the act of combining our energy somehow makes more energy.
If you want to magnify the value and benefit of your failures, then don’t do it alone — fail in a community. Preferably a community who is interested in whatever you are failing at. Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger coined the term “Communities of Practice” in the early 1990s. The term is broadly used to represent a group of people who engage in a community that is centered around a specific interest or practice.
I’m not ready to coin the term, “Community of Failure”, but there is legitimate value in failing with others – particularly in the company of others who have an interest in the specific domain of the failure. Here are some benefits for your consideration:
1. Moral support.
2. Learn from the failure of others (possibly one of the few things better than learning from your own failures.)
3. A Community of Failure gives you some great people to discuss with.
4. Something in a group tends to help us push ourselves.
5. When you become a more experienced member of the group, you can cement your own skills by mentoring less experienced members of the group (also, it never hurts to just give back).
6. Synergy. Yup, I said it. It’s a real thing, even if we talk about it too much.