Beyond the Rhetoric


Sunday Snippet: Samuel McChord Crothers (1857-1927) on Failure

July 14th, 2013 by
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“Try as hard as we may for perfection, the net result of our labors is an amazing variety of imperfectness. We are surprised at our own versatility in being able to fail in so many different ways.”

The sooner you learn two key life lessons, the better off you will be. First, recognize that failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When you fail at something, you are simply being presented with a monumental learning opportunity. Second, realize that you’re going to make mistakes. Failure is inevitable, because there really is no way that you are going to succeed at everything all the time.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with striving for perfection, because we should all aspire to be the best that we can be, but we should also realize that nobody’s perfect. Nor should they be. Our imperfections are precisely what makes each and every one of us so special and so unique. If we were all perfect in every way, we would all be the same automatons, going through the exact same motions. And that’s not fun. That’s not life.

I think that’s a really fascinating concept that we can take away from the quote above by American minister and essayist Samuel McChord Crothers. We all strive for perfection, but all we end up doing is finding all the ways not to accomplish our goals. And that’s okay. After all, as Thomas Edison once said, “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

That’s how we learn. That’s how we grow. That’s how we make so much more interesting. And that’s what makes true success that much sweeter. And even if we fail over and over again, we rarely fail in the same way twice. And it is only when we come to accept failure as part of the natural process that we can truly explore how creative, how inventive, and how original we can be. If you are utterly afraid of failure, you’ll become frozen or trapped in only the safest way to do things.

Should you throw caution to the wind and take unnecessary risks? No, I don’t think so, but I do think that we can’t be afraid of giving things a try. The person who doesn’t try is the one who has already failed.

Photo © 2011 J. Ronald Lee, CC Attribution 3.0.

  Category: Memorable Quotes, Personal Development   Tags: ,

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3 Responses to “Sunday Snippet: Samuel McChord Crothers (1857-1927) on Failure”

  1. Ray Ebersole says:

    This is a stupid analogy, but it works with what you are saying Michael. “Never up, Never in,” which in gf means if you get your shot to the hole it doesn’t have a chance to go in.

    If you don’t try because you are afraid to fail, you will never succeed.

    • Ray Ebersole says:

      Well, writing on an iPhone doesn’t lead to great spelling sometimes. Reading it after posting it I was embarrassed that I let it past the publish button.

      To restate what I wanted to say:

      In golf it means if you don’t get your shot to the hole it doesn’t have a chance to go in.

      Sorry Michael…. 🙁

  2. […] and our inability to accept anything less than the ideal leaves us with nothing more than an amazing variety of imperfectness. Nothing is perfect. No one is perfect. And simply waiting around isn’t going to get your […]

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