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« What Will You Regret When You're 80? | Main | Overcoming fear of failure »

July 08, 2006


Phil Gerbyshak

Powerful message EM. I've never thought of failure this way before, as something I created. Excellent food for thought.

EM Sky

Thanks, Phil. "Failure" in our educational system strikes me as especially absurd and in need of a major overhaul.

Once when I was in college I made the mistake of largely ignoring a certain physics class until the middle of the semester, at which point I realized just how terribly behind I was. Unfortunately this was after the withdrawal date, so I was left with only two choices. I could either drop the course and take an 'F'--in which case I could retake the class for a new grade, but the 'F' would still appear on my transcript even after retaking the course--or I could study my butt off and maybe pull off a 'C' or even a 'B-' if I was really lucky--in which case I would not be allowed to retake the course.

Fail and retake it, or pass with a mediocre grade and get stuck with it. What a choice!

Well I was a straight 'A' student in math and science other than this one freshman mistake, so I wanted to know the material and be prepared for higher level courses. I took the 'F' and then retook the course and got an 'A'--but that 'F' is still on my transcript right along with the 'A' to this day, even 20 years later. Honestly, I find that profoundly amusing.

The experience didn't keep me from getting into law school, but it did keep me from getting into Stanford's physics program, which was my first choice at the time. All because our "mistakes" are engraved in stone.

So yes, we create "failure" in our own minds, but we are taught to do this by a society that takes the illusion of "failure" very seriously and creates very real consequences over this rather silly idea. In order to free ourselves from the idea of failure, we have to let go of how the rest of the world sees things and learn to see the truth for ourselves. If enough of us can do that, eventually the whole world will let go of the illusion.

Then instead of wanting to hide our mistakes, we'll just be proud as heck of how much we learn from them.

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