Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fail Gloriously!

My eight-year-old wanted a skateboard for Christmas.

I wasn't crazy about it. My wife wasn't crazy about it. Yet, Santa apparently chose to fulfill his wish.

Needless to say, he was giddy with excitement. And in his excitement we were happy. My wife even went on YouTube with him and found how-to videos by the man, Tony Hawk. All was good.

For a few days, all he did was practice on that thing. During the day, in the yard. At nights, in the house. I cringed when I saw the scratches on our hard-wood floor, but turned a blind eye.

One night, while I wrote, I heard a thud from downstairs. "You okay?"

"Um, yeah."

I went back to my work. Ten minutes later, another noise. "What happened?"

"Nothing. I'm practicing."

I knew better than to just walk away, but I did. Five minutes later--you guessed it--a louder bang.

I inspected the war area... I would have been justified to get mad, take away the skateboard and tell my wife I told you so. But I didn't.

I can replace plaster and paint. I can't take away words that will forever tell him that failure is bad.

You see, I'd been breaking my own "plaster" upstairs. I'd been struggling with my writing. Trying and failing. Trying and failing.

There is nothing wrong in failing. Implied within failure is that you gave it a shot, you tried. And more importantly, you tried again.

If you're hitting walls, don't give up. Don't talk yourself out of it. There are plenty of people in your life (including the little voice in your head) who will convince you that you're not good enough, smart enough, creative enough.

Fail. Fail gloriously.

Some of us will understand and applaud you for trying. And do me a favor--once in a while, remind me that It's okay for me to get it wrong too.

I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.
~ Michael Jordan

Fight the good fight!


  1. Such a good point and a good reminder too.

  2. Thank you, Southpaw. I've posted the phrase "Fail Gloriously!" on my wall. By the way, love your site.

  3. Interesting Michael Jordan quote. However, that quote totally dismisses the fact that he was a diamond in the rough. Have you ever heard the phrase, "one cannot polish a turd"?

  4. LOL! Michael, I have a feeling that may be one of your quotes :) Definitely a quotable line!

    We're all turds (bags of bones) hiding a potential diamond within us. Even air Jordan didn't show any basketball skills until later in his teens. He worked harder than anyone else. Even when he was a pro.

    Without the persistence to dig and try, you'll never know if you are a diamond. And with art, that's doubly true. If all musicians stopped after they hit the first wrong notes, we'd have no music. Rembrandt threw out more paintings out his window than he sold.

    Particularly in the younger folk, they want immediate gratification. If they fail once they move on to the next thing. Winning comes with time and persistence and looking failure right in its eyes and doing it once again.

    Then again, I am the eternal optimist, remember? :)

    Thanks as always, Michael.

  5. Another wonderful uplifting post from you, Ara. As a parent, I so felt with you in holding back those critical words. As a North Carolinian, I LOVED the MJ quote! :-)

    I've got quite a few holes in the wall at home as well. And in my office, a file full or rejections that are even more painful.

    On to another day of trying!

  6. Wonderful post, Ara! I have to admire your patience and ability to turn a blind eye to the dents in your walls--but you make a really fantastic point about failure. Failure, although scary, isn't something that we should allow to paralyze us into not acting. Failure happens, and when it does we become that much better, stronger and wiser because of it.

  7. Susan, thank you. As usual, you're way too kind. It's so easy to criticize our kids and ourselves for falling short. So much harder to shake it off and do it again, knowing that we may fail again.

  8. Thanks, Ava. You nailed it. Paralysis advances nothing. We need to be in motion, all the time. Motion causes wins and failures. Actively doing something that matters, --regardless of the result--is the real name of the game.

  9. Nice! And how brilliant of you to let him have his failures. #parentWIN

  10. Thank you, Susan :) As much as I'd like to, I can't take all the credit :) My wife's a high-school teacher. She keeps me honest. She knows how fragile kids really are and reminds me that words cause real damage.

  11. Hey Pal,

    This post rocks and I'll tell you why, (no, I will, don't try and stop me...)

    It rocks because I was seven when my dad decided to was bored bringing me to the park on a Sunday afternoon (it was, of course, my favorite part of the week.)

    I can't remember my lunch three days ago, but I remember this event from thirty-five years ago.

    Good for you (and Mrs. Ara) for understanding how important this time is for "Tony Hawke Jr."

  12. Mark, you rock for sharing that story... I'm glad I was not able to stop you :) Those are the moments that we carry with us.

    BTW, Mrs. Ara's real name is Delia :)

  13. This is the best thing I've read in a long time. Thank you! And thank you to Susan who tweeted te link!

  14. Aloha,

    PS...I just posted that you've won an award from me :)

    So there.

  15. Thank you, Ali. That's very sweet of you, and dangerous for my ego :) And a big thanks to Susan for tweeting the link :D

    Mahalo, Mark. I'm "bluddy" blushing. And you know what else, Ali (above) and I are on the same list. Coincidence? Me thinks not.

  16. I never regret taking the time to read one of your posts, Ara. More wise words. And I've always loved that Michael Jordan quote. A lot like the one from Edison about how many times he found what *didn't* work to make a lightbulb. ;-)

    Keep failing gloriously, because someday, you won't fail.

  17. BTW, that kid of yours is one lucky little dude to have you and Delia as parents!

  18. Ah, Gwen, thank you! On so many levels.

    I want to grab my "little dude" and hug him now :)

    I was once told that on the tail of every breakdown is a breakthrough. We must fight through it. The breakthrough is waiting for someone courageous and unreasonable enough to tap into it and WIN!

  19. Thanks for this post. As a writer I understand exactly how you feel. Continue to write and you will turn that failure into a win.

    I am glad you are supporting the dreams of your child as well. Without the support of others it is hard to realize our dreams.

  20. RJ - Thank you for visiting and your comment. Focused activity causes breakthroughs and a solid support structure enables dreams. Thank you for joining the ride. I just visited your blog. When I saw Tintin there, I quickly became a fan :)


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