Failure - Can it be A Good Life Event?

  1. Was listening to the radio this am and here is what I thought... Scott Hamilton was on my radio today talking about failure and how it can teach us valuable lessons. Is failure ever a good event? the Scott Hamilton interview ended and I continued to think about what he said. He credited a failure during an international skating competition which then spurred him on to change coaches and he ultimately went on to become an Olympic medalist.

    How do we, as adults deal with failure?

    I know for myself, some of my biggest failures in life have resulted in lots of tears, sometimes anger and sometimes even a changed attitude.

    As parents, who hasn't questioned their decisions? We questioned a lot while raising one of our kids. Should we allow him to take the car tonight even though we knew he wasn't as cautious as we would be? Should we have paid closer attention to his friends and activities? We question daily now everything we did as he was growing up as he is now in prison. However, he has told us repeatedly that where he is and what he did was no reflection on our parenting. He takes full responsibility for this....however, as parents we still have days where we feel like failures. On the other hand, it has taught us forgiveness - of our son, and also forgiveness of ourselves. We continue to move on in this journey and it is teaching us (and our son) much compassion for others and to be less judgmental. Our failure is also a success as it has taught us much that we would never have learned had this not happened.

    As nurses, we sometimes have failed too - sometimes we've said the wrong thing or said the right thing in the wrong way. Either way, we don't always succeed in getting the message across. We might be too impatient, have too many tasks to do, too many patients to care for and not enough time to do them all. Sometimes we change jobs hoping for the nursing nirvana that will bring us a substantial measure of happiness only to find that what we had in our old job was as close to nursing nirvana as we could get. We make mistakes, we are human. Forgiving ourselves when there is potential or real harm to a patient takes a lot of time and effort. This teaches us humility.

    We sometimes fail at even being a person. We cut someone off in traffic because we were in a hurry and far more important than someone else who was also in a hurry. We've not always been the best listener. We jump to conclusions. We are rude to others or just plain don't do what we are supposed to do. However, there comes a time in everyone's life (at least I think so) when we need to take stock in what we've done in life, try to fix what we can and move on. This self-reflection can take many forms: thoughtful quiet time, religious activity, writing or sharing your thoughts with a trusted friend/family member.

    People can and need to learn from failure. Analyze failure, work through it to figure out why it happened and try not to repeat it. Go forward with life after looking; but not dwelling; on the past. Everyone fails at something. Everyone has things they have done or not done, wished they had said one thing or the other instead of what was said - we've all had those moments.

    Failure teaches you resilience and allows you to grow as a person. Inner growth rarely comes without some self-evaluation. Go forward - you are not your failures!

    How have you dealt with failure? What helped you to move on?
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  3. by   toomuchbaloney
    I think that mistakes and failing can be much more significant for the poor than for the wealthy in this country. Poor kids messing up in school don't have the same options as rich kids. A poor girl may not have the same options as a rich girl in terms of access to birth control or reproductive health care.

  4. by   traumaRUs
    Agree to a certain extent. However, as a fairly well-off middle class nurse I've made big mistakes and I think the consequences of those mistakes would have been the same for anyone in my position.

    What I'm getting at, is that our mistakes make us who we are...
  5. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from toomuchbaloney
    I think that mistakes and failing can be much more significant for the poor than for the wealthy in this country. Poor kids messing up in school don't have the same options as rich kids. A poor girl may not have the same options as a rich girl in terms of access to birth control or reproductive health care.

    We are all the sum total of our choices. Our mistakes and failures help to shape who we are as much as do our successes. I would argue that the person who has led a charmed life and has never experienced an enormous failure -- and I know some people who haven't -- are not as resourceful and as resilient as those of us who have faced and overcome huge failures. A divorce, a serious illness or injury, a job loss, the loss of a child to death, estrangement or prison, the loss of a spouse or partner -- overcoming those losses and failures helps to teach us who we are and helps contributes to who we are as our future self.

    One would think that being wealthy would help to cushion the blow of a such a loss or failure, and I suppose, to the extent that one can pay for food, a new car or someone to do the work we cannot manage, it does. But wealthy people seem to be just as susceptible emotionally as the rest of us, and I'd argue that many are so frightened of losing their wealth and position that they don't believe they can function without it. Something about hitting bottom without a net is a wonderful teacher.
  6. by   toomuchbaloney
    Something about never feeling saved by a net can be overwhelming.
  7. by   No Stars In My Eyes
    Live and Learn.
    Sink or Swim.
    Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me.
    If I hadn't gone through that, I wouldn't have ended up here.

    Everybody is different.
    Anyone's trigger may land them to a good place or a bad place, either positive or negative, in either order.

    Think of Jan Michael Vincent who was a handsome young man with a very promising acting career but ended up as a down and out old toothless drunk.
    Some girl whose name I can't remember lived in her car, but graduated from Harvard.
    A friend of mine kept insisting she wasn't crazy, never sought help, and actually did end up in a mental institution.
    Folks go in and out of rehab's revolving doors.

    My lifetime of depression and subsequent emotional breakdown made me determined to turn over every stone, fearlessly, to find out what I could do to figure out "why". After I figured that out, I realized the "why" didn't really matter anymore. It was the "What are you going to DO about it?" I had to deal with next. It took a lot of time. It's still taking time. My bugaboos will never totally disappear because they were woven into my life at an extremely young age. Now I'm trying to learn how to manage it, instead of trying to "get rid of it."
    But it led me to my work with others, because I vowed at the age of ten that I would NEVER treat people like I had been treated. I was never really LISTENED TO. Now I listen to others for real, because I KNOW the value of it. If you feel HEARD you feel like you matter. Maybe that listener can't resolve anything, but you know you are a person of value because some one has validated you. Consideration of the real person you are and acceptance of that is unbelievable the first time it happens, even if you aren't consciously cognizant of that. For me, it was older people, like OLD, who treated me, a kid, like I was real and I mattered. But all I knew back then was that I REALLY LIKED OLD PEOPLE!

    None of it is easy. Likely MANY folks have some version of this going on at any point in their lives.
    There are people very fortunate in a number of ways, like very rich without having any money. Same as the rich in money who are poor in spirit.
    We are all living the human condition. We can help, mentor, encourage, empathize, but not cure another's life and/or life-problems.
    Mother Brown said, "Pray for the dead; fight like hell for the living."

    I could go on, but you get the gist.
  8. by   No Stars In My Eyes
    When I wrote the above I was in a very "Investigation ID - Lt. Joe Kenda" frame of mind, but it doesn't seem to come across very well. So, in short, my answer is Yes, Failure Can Be a Good Thing, as, if you are lucky, it leads to a better point-of-view, frame-of-mind, and circumstances. Maybe not all at once, and it's not pleasant or fun, but it can happen.
  9. by   toomuchbaloney
    Yes failure teaches us valuable lessons.
    Wealth changes what lessons we learn.