Tuesday, October 16, 2001

Learning Through Failure

I'm looking at my last entry (10/12/2001), and the question "What would you attempt to do if you could not fail?"

Is there such a thing as failure? If we attempt, and do not succeed, but we learn from the attempt, is this a failure? Maybe that's the word we use. But it's how we react to the 'failure', to the results of the attempt, that sets us apart from other people, isn't it?

I read the autobiography of Thomas J. Watson, the CEO of IBM during the 60s. He wrote a story of a how a director made a critical mistake, costing IBM some huge amount of money: $60 million. The director came to Mr. Watson hat in hand, and (I'm paraphrasing) "I suppose you want my resignation?" Mr. Watson said "Are you kidding? We just spent $60 million to train you!"

I don't remember the details, but the gist is there: we can only learn through failure, and it is only by doing do we achieve failure. It is only by doing do we put ourselves in the position to fail or succeed.

So the question is very liberating: What do you really want to do?

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