Q&A: Failure is a brilliant thing

Q&A: Failure is a brilliant thing

This month I received the following reader’s question,

Hello Lisanne, in one of your essays you wrote about the willingness to write poor things first, and the importance of that when it comes to writing. What is your personal take on failure?

In Man’s Search for Meaning, psychiatrist Victor Frankl writes that life holds a potential meaning under any conditions— even the most miserable ones.

If that is true, then there is no such thing as failure. Then failure is just that simple sign that tries to push you in a different direction. I guess failure can be looked at as something that causes us negative emotions, which makes us want to get rid of the discomfort that comes along with it as fast as possible.

On the other hand, the experience is also there, I believe, because we are supposed to do something. Mistakes can teach us what not to do, and force us to come up with better ideas. In this way, mistakes can be used for personal growth.

At the same time, breakthroughs never pay off in the moment. One of the takeaways from Steven Pressfields story is that after almost 10 years his books started to pay off— in other words, they took a long time to mature.

I believe that great change happens in small bits. In small actions, but most of the time we reward big. Yet, there is power in small, daily steps and the belief in oneself is definitely the foundation for everything great.

So I prefer to see failure as a brilliant thing because it forces me to look at hurtful mistakes as something that can learn me something valuable. They make suffering worthwhile. Over the course of the last couple of years, I came to appreciate how every failure helped me to better navigate future situations.

So, we can take steps to ensure mistakes don’t happen again, but we could also see them as opportunities to improve our lives. I’d say that our lives are bigger than one experience, and the mistakes that we make actually have taken us to where we are right now. Things don’t have to be perfect, but it’s the progression we should strive for.

There is a wonderful quote from Wes Moore’s sister in the book The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, saying,

“my definition of hell would be one day God is showing me everything that I could have accomplished, had I only tried. […]”

Just keep moving!

• • •


Thank you for reading. This reader’s question is part of the Ask Me Anything series. Feedback from you, the reader, is important to me. Want to ask me a question for next month? Send me your question via team@lisanneswart.com

Here is a list of the last 3 readers’ questions I’ve answered:

» Explore more answers to readers’ questions





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