In Church this morning (yeah, I go to church with the hubby), the Pastors talked about the idea of failing forward – how failing sometimes sets us up for success.
Johannes Haushofer, an accomplished professor, even wrote a CV (a fancy way to say resumé) of all his failures, explaining it like this:
Most of what I try fails, but these failures are often invisible, while the successes are visible. I have noticed that this sometimes gives others the impression that most things work out for me. As a result, they are more likely to attribute their own failures to themselves, rather than the fact that the world is stochastic, applications are crapshoots, and selection committees and referees have bad days. This CV of Failures is an attempt to balance the record and provide some perspective.
It got me thinking about my own failures, and how they shaped my life and my writing.
First and foremost is my failure to publish my first novel in my early twenties, compounded by my subsequent failure to keep writing.
I had thin skin, and it had taken five years to write the damned thing, so when ten publishers all told me it wasn’t good enough – and by extension, that I wasn’t good enough – I gave up.
It was a bad decision. And yet…
Maybe I had to fail. Maybe I wasn’t ready yet to write what I needed to back then. Maybe it wasn’t yet my time.
In the intervening two decades, I went around the Life board quit a few times, collecting my salary and life experience. With each spin of the wheel, I added a few more experience points, and when I did finally come back to writing, it was all the richer for it.
Plus, the companies who published my work didn’t exist back then. So in a way, I failed forward, right?
So what failures of yours later set you up for success?