Friday 12 June 2009

Beyond failure and disappointment

We live in a world that can be harsh and cruel, where the nuances of life are obliterated; where the subtlety of life is mangled into right and wrong, black and white, win or lose. It's not win and lose, it's 'win or lose', a noteworthy point in an of itself…

And yet nothing is ever so simple, so clear cut. Someone may not win a race, but because they have put everything they can into it, they have, in fact, experienced a victory.

It will happen that we fail to achieve a goal, that we are disappointed, or we disappoint ourselves. It strikes me that so much of the pain in life is caused by the condemnation of failure: the shaming that is implicit in it, that excruciating sense of feeling our inner self wither in a corner, fearful and angry at our own inadequacy.

Yet getting past this experience of loss, failure or disappointment receives fairly little attention. So here's what I think about it...!

What defines us as human beings is how we handle the disappointments of life (as much as its successes). In both areas - as well as the in-between times - it is compassion that brings sanity. Compassion with ourselves is often the hardest form of compassion. But the fruits of compassion are kindness and gentleness.

We could use a little more kindness and gentleness on this planet. We are quick to judge, lest we be contaminated by someone else’s failure; but how often do we stop criticising and evoke compassion, a willingness to see another side?

In my own case, not often enough: and even when I see the other side, I can still fail to act in a compassionate manner. Perhaps that is a failing! And an indication that I have lots more compassion to practice!

1 comment:

  1. Thought you might like this quotation:
    "To learn, fail. If nothing ever breaks, you don't really know how strong it is. Strike out fear of failure. Reward success and failure equally - punish inactivity."
    David Kelley, founder and chairman of IDEO.

    Maybe a tad over-stated, but I like the essential idea. You only know that you've reached your 'limit' when you get beyond it.