After “The Upside of Failure” discussion at The Rose last Wednesday, several people shared their continued thoughts and reactions with me.
One person reflected on the downside of success. He had been following a battle between two high-powered investors in sports and how one of them, now failing or losing for perhaps the first time in his life, had no frame of reference for failure. The investor’s life had been so focused on succeeding at all costs at everything, that he didn’t know how to fail… and thus FLAILED.
Another friend decided upon a new motto for himself: “FAIL OFTEN AND PUBLICLY.” His logic being that when he messes up and his friends know about it, they tend to be far more supportive than his harsh inner critic is when he is alone. His friends help him get back on the right track; plus they remind him that failure is part of life and is survivable.
Another of the evening’s attendees told me that whenever she gets too mired in obsessing about her failures, she remembers PERSPECTIVE. She noted that there are 7 billion people on the earth, and she counts herself as one of the very fortunate ones in terms of having her basic needs met. When plagued by self-critique, she turns instead to GRATITUDE for what she has and is capable of.
One friend was angered by the topic altogether. He feels that Americans are paralyzed by FEAR of failure, and that to dwell on the subject only pushes us further into that fear. He says that fear of failure is responsible for a lot of our irresponsible consumer choices, always trying to protect ourselves from what we fear. He would have rather had a program focused more on UPSIDES…
Many people noted that failure is often directly related to EXPECTATIONS. The higher and more specific our expectations, the more possible a specific and crushing sense of failure.
A few first-time Culture Front attendees shared their thoughts with me. One friend wished we had better defined our terms. He thought the speakers talked about “SETBACKS,” not true failures. But perhaps that brings us back to perspective.
Happily, several people were inspired by the conversation, relieved to hear other artists and creative people talking about the bumps in the road. One artist wrote to me, “I left feeling inspired to keep creating and pushing forward.”
A number of folks told me they appreciated Ben Roth’s willingness and courage to show images of failed art pieces and so I have used several of them here. I also collected a few of the images Nona shared, including the Baby Who’s Got Your Back (Google search: “Success”) and this wonderful image of a twisting wooden space that has been tested to the brink of failure then reeled in so it wouldn’t fail.
And Matt Daly had additional poems by other poets that address the theme of failure – quite successful poems, as it happens! Here are audio links to those poems:
Plus, I know you’ll want to hear “The Lanyard” again:
Do you have more thoughts and comments to share?