Friday, May 27, 2016

Beyond Failure

"To undertake a genuine spiritual path is not to avoid difficulties but to learn the art of making mistakes wakefully to bring to them the transformative power of our heart."
- Jack Kornfield

Does the cherry tree exclaim how hard it works during spring?  Do you hear shrieks of exasperation?  Of course not. The tree goes about its business of treeness and pushes auxins. The pink floods out of the petals. They drop and illustrate the street. 

Why does the notion exist among human beings that effort equals result?  The "Little League" mentality that everyone gets a trophy for hard work insults the process. What happens when a batter swings at the third pitch and misses?  He's out!  It doesn't matter how hard he tried. The effort did not produce a result.

In the publishing world, editors cannot observe the effort put into a piece of writing.  They judge the words that bounce upon the page. The black squiggles either hold their attention or they don't.  

In the construction business, if a carpenter works all day measuring, cutting, hammering and at the end of the day looks up to see the windows sag, corners don't match up and in one rain the roof will leak, does he say, "I worked so hard?"  No!  He can see that he needed to focus on the details.

Many individuals fear making mistakes when learning something new.  Failure assists the process. Success comes from feeling comfortable with risk and error.

Imagine the man who loves to work with his hands. He carves boxes designed with robins and roses. Purchasers love his work. One day he decides to take a ceramics class to learn how to throw pots. He spends four weeks throwing clay and the pots lean right and left. Some have thin sides and heavy bases. 

The wheel races, his fingers slipping in the water. Drippings cover him with gray. He's worked so hard with his hands but this new procedure defies his understanding. The result does not represent his accomplishments of the past. What has he learned from the process?  He thought he could just crank it out as an artist but did not realize the nuances and techniques necessary to learn a new skill. Will he keep going and doing? That's what matters.

Hard work has value as it improves discipline and provides the opportunity for results.  Many times one must fail in order to succeed when learning a new skill.

Consider how "hard work" translates into result or did just the opposite. Eleanor Roosevelt said, "We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face.  We must do that which we think we cannot."

Let failure inspire and become the First Attempt in Learning.

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