Sign up with your email address to be the first to know about new products, VIP offers, blog features & more.

“Failure is a Process … You Have to Fail Over and Over”

“Failure is a process … you have to fail over and over and over again to get anything that’s worthwhile.” Jules Feiffer cartoonist

Feel like a failure? You’re actually winning. Watch this 40 second video about the power of failure. According to Mr. Feiffer, you need to continuously try new things and fail in order to create anything worthwhile. Think about raising children. If you think you didn’t fail over and over again… I suspect you are kidding yourself.

Think about nature. Evolution is a series of failures in order to find the best way forward: the flower that is drought resistant or the leaf that absorbs water more effectively.

I am teaching a new online course. Learning the software is driving me crazy. Just when I think I have learned something, it appears that I forget it. And this is happening live, in front of my students. Humbling to say the least.

Think of the last time you failed. Did you curl up in a ball? Did you try to deny it? Were you ashamed? This last is the worst of it. Failure is a sign that you are trying. If you can’t think of the last time you failed, then you are either not paying attention or you aren’t trying anything new. The old saying, nothing ventured, nothing gained, warns us to keep trying new things. To live fully we need to fall on faces from time to time.

Photo credit: Fig leaf John Leach

If you are unfamiliar with Jules Feiffer’s delightful cartoons (as well as the rest of his body of work), check him out.



3 Responses
  • Carl Hoffman
    February 6, 2014

    Your blog never ceases to amaze me. This last one rang my bell. As you know I have retired from a steady paycheck job. I am having fun but my venture has not met my expectations. My wife said it needs more time to develop and that I am prone to make unrealistic expectations. I think I may be providing something that people do not want to see. I have had much positive feedback even from a professor I had over 40 years ago. Yesterday I produced something new and very different. Instead of me I used an avatar. It was a “Top 10 list of tongue-in-cheek practical reasons to be a Christian.” I showed it to my wife who said, “It was true but not funny and it did not make her feel good when it was over.” It will not be posted. This failure has allowed me to better know who I am and what is expected of me. People do not want me to be a comedian they want me to be comforting. Years ago my father in law told me that I am person who comes into the room and everyone knows everything will be all right. Somehow I need to market that in such a way that people want to see it. Thank you for putting failure in a positive light. The video you recommended is affirming.

  • Deborah
    February 7, 2014

    Yeah for you! Trying and failing… and doing the exact right thing which is failing fast. I can tell by how quickly you are adjusting that you are in serious learning mode. You are my hero!
    Most of us stop taking risks, you are taking more and more. I love it. You will find your way, just keep falling down and getting back up.
    If you haven’t seen this video from my daughter… it’s on the ‘don’t ever give up’ and being yourself is hard work. Please forgive if you see or hear ‘language’ — her audience is young girls and her style is appropriate for them. GO! (Thoughts on Being Yourself)

  • Carl Hoffman
    February 7, 2014

    I saw her video when it was first posted. This time it hit me at a teachable moment. Thanks. Before I retired, I was in a hospice room visiting one of my members. She was surrounded with her niece, her niece’s daughter and her granddaughter who was 14. We were having a general conversation among us when there came a pause, the 14 year old said, “Whee,” and put her fist on her chin and said, “Ding.” I looked at her and said, “Oh, you watch Jenna Marbles and Daily Grace on YouTube.” She was blown away. After the woman died and after her funeral the 14 year old said to me, “The other day you shocked me that you knew about Jenna Marbles. I did not expect that from someone your age, but it is so cool.”

    What do you think?

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *