In Others’ Words: Finding the Good in Failure

Fail without Fear 2015

Isn’t it funny how pursuing success can end up teaching us a lot about failure?

I dreamed about being a writer for a long time. Postponed it for years while I focused on being a wife and a mom — and facing my failures there. And my successes. There were those, too.

And then one day I stopped dreaming about writing. I stopped saying, “I want to be a writer” and I started doing the things that I needed to do to make my writing dream come true.

I attended conferences. Met with editors. And agents. Pitched article ideas. Submitted articles. Dealt with rejections and acceptances and deadlines and hopes and disappointments.

And my dream came true, just as I hoped … and in ways I never imagined.

Greater success than I’d hoped for and yes, more disappointing failures than I imagined too.

I discovered that the failures were the making of me more than the successes. 

A dream coming true doesn’t mean life is perfect. Oh, it may feel like that for a few fleeting moments. And it’s so very important to hApPy DaNcE whenever the opportunity arises. And a dream come true helps you realize your own imperfections as you wrestle with the “less than” moments that inevitably appear while you’re living the dream.

A dream come true such as … oh, a book contract, for example … is an opportunity for you to discover who you are when your dream is everything you ever hoped it would be … and when it’s not. When the applause is deafening … and when not a single person claps for you. When your efforts pay off (royalty check, anyone?) and when there seems to be no return on your efforts, either in dollars or stars (readers’ reviews).

Yes, I consider myself a successful author — and by that I mean I’ve been contracted since 2011 and I’m teaching and mentoring other writers and I’m surrounded by a wonderfully supportive writing community. But the best thing about pursuing this dream? I don’t fear failure like I used to.

In Your Words: Which do you fear more: success or failure? Why? And what good has come out of failure in your life?

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FOR A FEW MORE DAYS: My novel, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, is on sale for $1.99! It’s available on all e-tail sites. 

 

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5 Comments

  1. November 12, 2015, 6:31 am   /  Reply

    It’s so fun to watch your writing journey & I’m so proud of you. I’m about to dare to move forward w/ mine again, too.

    • November 12, 2015, 8:34 am   /  Reply

      I celebrate forward motion in your writing journey, Dee!

  2. November 12, 2015, 8:06 am   /  Reply

    There is a Japanese term, ‘ganbatte’, which roughly translates as ‘please continue trying to do your best’. (The more strident renderings miss the courteous nuance.)

    One may be beaten, but one may NOT give up, and my induction may not permit oneself to fail. I don’t think this is a bit of semantic hairsplitting; it’s more crudely put in the Americanism ‘death before dishonour’. Going to the end of one’s ability and being defeated is not really failure. It may be the ultimate success of the spirit.

    Failure stands outside a door that has no outside handle. We choose to open the door, and failure is to my mind, an unwelcome guest.

    • November 12, 2015, 8:37 am   /  Reply

      “Going to the end of one’s ability and being defeated is not really failure. It may be the ultimate success of the spirit.”
      Well said, Andrew.
      You and I have discussed this very topic of late.
      And you know I don’t believe the adage, “God never gives us more than we can handle.” I believe that God does allow us to face more than we can handle — and at that moment we have a choice: to fake self-sufficiency or to say, “I can’t do it” and be defeated, which as you point out, is not failure. It is when we find God’s sufficiency — and that is the ultimate success of the spirit. His and ours.

  3. November 12, 2015, 10:39 am   /  Reply

    What a great post, Beth. I have feared both success and failure. Knowing I can succeed at something and putting forth the effort at success . . . with the fear that I may yet fail . . . has prevented me from pursuing certain dreams. I learned this fall that in trying to succeed at something you risk failure, but you press forward anyway. Putting your best out there and letting God do what He knows is best with my efforts.

    Fearing failure doesn’t hold me back for too long. The only way I truly fail at something it to never try in the first place. When I put forth the effort toward something, even if I don’t achieve what I thought I would, I’ve changed for the better as a person. I’ve grown in some way. And that is not failure.

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