Failure Isn’t Always What it Seems

A recent post on Eleni Zoe’s blog has got me thinking. Yes, I do sometimes read non-dog-related things, but that’s not what I am thinking of. The post was about failure. More specifically, it was about how failing itself can be a success.

Being me, my thoughts first went to my dog and how Shiva never shies from a chance to fail. She doesn’t let fear stop her from doing anything. Just this morning is a perfect example. For the first time this winter, I noticed the surface of the lake by our house was frozen over. Curious, Shiva and I headed over to investigate. I wasn’t brave enough to step on the thin ice as I could see the water moving underneath. My dog, however, pranced right over, not even hesitating in her steps. Despite her confidence, the ice cracked under her paws and she sunk right through. She immediately jumped back to the safety of land. I think she was more surprised than anything.

I tossed a few pieces of kibble onto the ice, wondering what she would do. At that motivation, Shiva screwed up her courage and stepped back out on the ice. This time she didn’t care if she fell through, she was getting to that kibble! In just a short time she was having a blast crashing around in the ice-filled water. She proved that sometimes failure is necessary and leads to better things. If she hadn’t fallen through the ice in the first place, she never would have gotten over her fear.

This episode made me think about some of the larger failures in my own life that turned into major successes:

– After university, I failed to find a job in my field. Disappointed with the reality of post-school life, I took a job at a hotel. A job that introduced me to some of my closest friends and a future roommate who encouraged me to finally move out of my parents’ house. Most notably, if I hadn’t worked there, I never would have met my PH.

– I failed to save up enough money to attend law school. Desperate for change, I moved to Calgary instead and discovered the non-profit sector, starting me on a career path I never anticipated. I may not make a lot of money, but let’s face it. If I’d finished law school, I’d be dealing with mountains of student loan debt. And we all know even as a lawyer I’d never make the big bucks. Knowing myself, I’d spend a legal career defending children and abused women, or doing some sort of pro bono work. Destined to be poor!

– We failed to find a decent way of life in Calgary. Depressed and tired of living in my practically brother-in-law’s basement, we packed up and moved East to Halifax. I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. While I miss my friends and family something fierce, I have never been happier.

– I failed to train my dog myself. The bullying methods I’d learned on television were not working. Shiva was getting crazier by the minute. So I hit the Internet and found a fantastic positive trainer who has now become a good friend. If I hadn’t failed, I never would have discovered agility or this awesome world of pet blogging.

It’s funny how things turn out, isn’t it? Even though I have spent a great deal of my life fearing failure, it seems I should have been embracing it.

Do you have any successes you can attribute to an earlier failure?

19 thoughts on “Failure Isn’t Always What it Seems

  1. What a great way to look at everything. I totally believe we have to make mistakes to better ourselves, and thanks for sharing so many wonderful examples of how your “failures” led you to where you are today. I would think working in the non-profit sector is much more rewarding than being a lawyer any day!

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  2. I really like this idea. If we’re afraid to make mistakes, we just won’t try. I always wanted to be a journalist – I failed at that idea during college, but it led me to look for other career options and I’m pretty happy with where I ended up today (for now, at least).

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  3. This is a really great post! failure is certainly a part of life and if you can learn from it it’s great but it’s even greater ify ou can turn that failure into something positive.

    I was working for a non-profit when the economy crashed… and although it wasn’t my fault, I felt like a failure when our budget was slashed and I lost my job. I couldn’t find another job in my field and i really did feel like a failure… but that moment pushed me into starting my training business and taking me down a path that i’m really enjoying 🙂

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  4. You make a very good point. It has always been hard for me to leave my comfort zone for fear of failure, but once out, life happens and I wonder why it took so long.

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  5. Awesome post (and the link was great too). I grew up in a house where failure simply wasn’t an option and as a result, I am NOT a natural risk taker. I have to constantly remind myself to take that step and go for stuff. Thank you for the reminder, I need it an especially large amount today!

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  6. Pingback: Small Successes « jodistone

  7. Great post! Embracing failure is exactly what we should do. It brings us to places we couldn’t have guessed. Our failure with Kenzo’s training is a lot like your story. Good for you to trust Shiva and look for alternatives. So many would just have blamed the dog.
    Always learning!

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  8. loved this post!

    i’ve been in so many similar spots as you, and things have always turned out pretty great. my most recent experience, of course, is the horrific compulsion training that led me to start school to become a trainer myself (have a pretty big test coming up after christmas, actually!). i really hope that leads to a whole new career for me, and based on how lots of things have turned out before, the outlook seems good. 🙂

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  9. The way I see it, it’s always better to try and fail than not to try at all. See, if you don’t try in the first place, all you really get is a sort of nagging feeling that you should have tried, along with continuous wondering about how things would have worked out if you’d done it. Even if you fail horribly at something, it’s usually better than just sort of wondering how things would’ve gone…

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  10. It’s funny because a lot of people I know are scared of failure, but everytime they push themselves they end up succeeding! Sometimes you have to practice failing… 😛 which is why I reckon the ‘cotton wool kids’ whose parents protect them from everything are behind the 8-ball as adults because they haven’t had the opportunity to fail….

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  11. I like the way you think Kristine. 🙂 I can list all the events in my life that have lead me to the road I’m on now all due to choices I have made.

    My biggest struggle with failure is myself. Not having the self-confidence or self trust to do what I think is right. The behaviorist I took Brut to was a good example, it took someone else to kick my dog to muster the courage to do what I’d been doing all along with him and be OK with it. Even though I still flail sometimes, I see the miracles of change that has happened with Brut and I because of realizing I had to take that initiative and dig into those places deep inside that no one ever taught me and find that self confidence and worth that I could do this. I still find it hard to stand on my own but everyday I learn a little bit more about who I am, not what I suppose to be.

    Thank you for this beautiful post.

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  12. Hmmmm, fails, huh? Well, I’ve had many fails but the most note worth is this one. If I didn’t fail my OAC Chemistry class, I never would have gone to Brock University, where I met my BFF and other people that I am still friends with today.

    If you don’t fail, you don’t learn.

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  13. Kudos to you … when you saw that something wasn’t working in your life you made a change. So many people choose to stay in their situation and complain that life sucks. It’s hard to see an event as a failure when it leads you to something better. My biggest “fail” was my first marriage, but I learned a lot from it and without that experience I wouldn’t be where I am now – happily married to the best guy I know.

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