What is Failure?

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.


  1. KirkHazlett says:

    “But tomorrow, by the living God, we’ll try the game again!” (John Masefield, “Tomorrow”). You’re absolutely correct, Erin. Failure is one of the best educational tools available to us. I’ve probably blown up (figuratively) more things in my career than most mortals…but I’ve learned a boatload in the process…and didn’t make the same mistake twice!

    •  @KirkHazlett I love the quote!
      I think I’ve failed with several things in the past two years, but those failures all have led toward where I am now. Failure has as much capacity to guide and direct than success does – probably more so. Failure is uncomfortable. Human beings don’t seem to like being uncomfortable for too long; thus, they change.
      Thanks for stopping by the new place!

  2. Follow your momentum muse, my friend:)


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