What is Failure?

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Failure may be a muse.Perhaps failure is a gift. Perhaps it’s the muse, as Hugh MacLeod suggests. Perhaps it isn’t the terrible thing it sometimes is made to be.

Failure often is viewed as a negative, but I think it might be better to see it as a positive. If I fail at something, it means I’ve tried. I may feel awful about that failure, and, as a perfectionist, I know I will, but I at least tried. I didn’t let my fears of failure keep me from making the attempt.

Once I’ve made that attempt and failed, I can try again. Maybe I won’t try again with that certain project or activity, but I might be less afraid to try another activity or to start a new project. The failure might give me a better sense of direction, as it did this past November. Yes, interacting with that failure was awful, but it eventually revealed what I truly wanted to do and caused me to pursue a different avenue.

Failure, then, can result in one of two responses. The first is stasis. I am so afraid of failing again that I refuse to try anything new. The second is momentum. The failure causes me to investigate new pathways. It inspires me to seek different answers. It becomes my muse.

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Erin Feldman

Erin Feldman is the director of editorial services at Tenacity5 Media and the founder of Write Right. She's a copywriter, editor, poet, and artist. You can find Erin on .

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  1. […] fear failure.” Again, this can be true. Perfectionists and overachievers often are paralyzed by a fear of failure. I pose the argument this way: would you prefer to do nothing and be filled with regret or would […]

  2. […] Failure is a prerequisite. No good work occurs in the absence of it. Failure is the instructor, the guide. It tells the writer to not go in one direction and to try another. […]

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