ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Failure Is the Gift That Precedes Success

Updated on July 15, 2014

Failure?

Failure is most commonly defined as not achieving a goal, or not seeing an intended outcome. Most failure is traditionally attributed to a lack or inability of quality accompanied by mistakes. Often a result of inexperience, failure can also be due to not knowing how to solve unknown factors, lack of understanding as well as other things.

But doesn't this sound like a child who is learning? When a child experiments and learns, it's called play. When children play, they learn about the world they live in. They learn about everything around them. They learn about relationships that not only include people, but they also learn about form, balance, design, space and proportion, light, dark and color and so much more. They are experiencing, and therefore, there is no failure in this mode of play. And yet they do achieve at their level. They are wildly creative, uninhibited and the world is a canvas on which to paint their experiences.

As adults, we have been lead to believe that play is reserved for children. Adults rarely even refer to "play" except in association with children's behavior. Play, then, by inference, is childish. Work has replaced play for adults. Therefore, if work is not successful, it is a failure. I think this is a perfect example of brainwashing.

Source

Play Versus Work

I taught piano lessons for over two decades. I taught many ages, including several adults. The students who had the most difficult time finding any joy at the piano were teenagers and adults who were driven to succeed. I remember one particular student who always arrived with furrowed brow and tormented the piano. However, she would play perfectly many times, despite her harsh style. She played ferociously no matter what the mood of the piece was. She finally admitted her fear of failing to please me which made her so tense that her muscles would only allow her to play as if she were attacking the keyboard. Finally it dawned on me what to say to her:

"Thank you for working the piano. But we call it playing the piano for a reason. Please let go of working the piano, and now play it."

I asked her to close her eyes and see herself playing this beautiful piece she chose, removing me from that picture all together. After a minute or two, she opened her eyes, and began playing. She was utterly amazed at the transformation of music she created. It came alive to her! Those missing puzzle pieces in her music were discovered by playing. The piano sang with emotion and feeling. Even when her playing wasn't perfect, none of the beauty of her playing was minimized. Failure had been eliminated. It no longer existed when she played the piano.

So what was the key? What was that one thing she did that clicked and changed everything for her? She relaxed. Failure didn't exist because she was playing. The stress of performing was replaced by the joy of playing.

Is There Really Such a Thing as Failure?

In truth, I believe there is no such thing as failure unless we stop trying. Every attempt is an education and an experience that will lead us closer to our intended goal, if we persist. The story of Thomas Edison's 700 attempts at making an electric light bulb are well known.

Edison was asked by a New York Times reporter, “How does it feel to have failed seven hundred times?”

To which Edison responded,"I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work."

Thomas Edison's Quote

I think what Edison is implying is if you haven't yet achieved what you want, you haven't yet failed enough. Look forward to more failures and learn and build on them. Get involved in play, curiosity, and creativity. And when you're so involved in that process, success will come when it's least expected. That's the joyful surprise of success.

Failure Precedes Success!

Experience Is the Best Teacher

As I graduated high school, I wanted more than anything to be a composer and study music at university. But there were things that could have prevented me from studying music. I never received more than two years of formal piano lessons growing up, and I had a partially missing right index finger. I could barely read music, and I had to have others notate the music I composed.

When I auditioned as a 17 year old for a music scholarship at university, I was nearly laughed off campus. My piano performance skills were horrible and I was considered a beginner. But I also played one of my own compositions. I wrote a two-part invention in the style of J. S. Bach and although I couldn't really play it very well, I gave the music to my jury and they looked on as I played. I saw looks of surprise, and fingers pointing at the score. Mumblings were heard:

"It sounds like number....oh no, it isn't that one, but it does sound like Bach!"

After I performed I was told, "We shouldn't allow you as a music major at all. You don't qualify for a scholarship because your skills are at a beginner level. However..."

It was because of my composition abilities that I was allowed to major in music, but I had enormous work ahead of me. I had to prove I could learn from each setback, each doubt that others had about my abilities and keep going forward. It was difficult, and I wanted to give up many, many times. But when I composed, I played. I became absorbed in the joy of trying new things, creating new sounds. And it was more than acceptable to all my critics. In time, I became a competent teacher, conductor, composer, orchestrator and publisher. As an undergraduate, three of my pieces were published in volumes that have sold millions of copies.

I think if you must have the word "failure" in your vocabulary, you need to automatically put the word "temporary" in front of it. But I also think that if you can be as my piano student and realize there is no failure, that transforming fear and feelings of inadequacy to joy is about playing, discovery, curiosity and creativity, I think you're even closer to what you really want.

So, if you're stressing and obsessing about a "failure", here's what I think: go out and play, and stop bugging me. I'm working. [wink.]

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • MyFunHealthyLife profile imageAUTHOR

      Daniel Carter 

      5 years ago from Western United States

      Thank you for stopping by and for your insights, Alise-Evon.

    • profile image

      Alise- Evon 

      5 years ago

      Super article. The way we use/understand words, based on how we were 'taught," and what we "learned" about them in our own lives/through our own experiences sure can have dramatically different outcomes in different people. Thank you so much for helping us re-define "failure." Your stories in this hub will not be quickly forgotten.

    • tw6852 profile image

      Taylor 

      5 years ago from Southern California

      What a great hub. More of the world needs to think like this.

    • MyFunHealthyLife profile imageAUTHOR

      Daniel Carter 

      5 years ago from Western United States

      Agreed, jpcmc. Thanks for stopping by.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 

      5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      It's fascinating to observe children. They have what is called assimilation and accommodation skills. They learn and use new skills to interact with the world around them. If we can simply make use of the same skills when we are older, we can learn more and do more. Success depends on how much we want it.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)