Book Corner

The Importance of Failure


That’s probably one of the most feared words in our culture. Failure. Be it in the form of an ‘F’ on your test, a berating from someone you admire, or simply that disappointed look that you get when you let someone down. Failure is almost always dreaded and avoided.

So, of course, I’m writing a blog post on it. Go figure. Today, or tomorrow, or whenever you read this, I’m going to elaborate on why failing is important, what we gain from failing, and how we can learn from it.

Maybe you think that this is nonsense. After all, who would want to fail? That’s like trying to flunk a math test. It’s just not done. And I’m not saying that you should try to get low scores on your tests. Instead, I’m going to explain to you how failure can help us, and why, instead of being terrified of it, we should try to learn from it.

The Value in Failing

So, first off, let’s talk about the value of failing. Yes, the value. We all know the value of success, that wonderful feeling of doing something well. Succeeding is why most people try things. They want to or have to do something, and try, whether diligently or lazily, to complete their task.

Many people don’t consider the value that we can find in our failures. They get so hung up on succeeding that if they do fail, they feel crushed, and may never try something new again. However, there is an alternative response to failure. We can learn from it.

Instead of slumping down, beaten and crushed because we failed at one thing, we can study what we did, see how we messed up, and learn how to do it correctly. In this light, failure can often be more profitable and valuable than succeeding, as we learn how to avoid failure in the same way later on.

This is often best exemplified when doing math. You may easily grasp a concept and fly through all of the preliminary work, but when you hit the truly confusing stuff, you’ll often be more confused than if you’d just messed up on the beginning work, learned what you’d done wrong, and understood how to fix it.

How to Learn from Failure

First off, look at what you did, and how you messed up. Find how you failed. Study that, figure out possible ways you could have done it right. Instead of just noting that you did something wrong, find out what you did wrong. That’s one of the quickest ways to fixing your mistakes.

This works for all different things, too, not just ‘big’ mistakes. My violin teacher has me do it all the time while I’m practicing, and it makes a big difference when I’m playing my songs. I know what I did wrong and I’m able to both consciously and subconsciously fix my mistake.

Another handy tool for learning from failure is to figure out the reasoning behind your mistake. Quite often when we make mistakes, they’re simply mental misunderstandings. We associate our problem with something else, and come up with the incorrect answer because what we thought it was was different than what it truly was.

And here’s the last, and possibly most important, part of failing. The experience. If we fail at small things, and even medium ones, those will prepare us for when we fail big time. That means that during the times where most people would feel crushed, we will be able to learn from your mistakes and then grow because of that.

Well, there you go. That’s my reasoning for trying to learn from failure. I hope that it helped some of you! This is just one in the flood of articles that will slowly trickle out of my brain and onto your computer screens, and I hope that it was enjoyable and at least somewhat well written.