Friday, March 16, 2012

on failure

I was supposed to be updating you on the boys.

I'll do it next week.

Today I'd like to write on the topic of failure. I think about this topic a lot. After nearly 6 years of trying to attain a position at my company as a master trainer, yesterday I was told plainly that it wasn't going to happen. And in a very real sense, I feel I have failed.
I don't fail often. Even less are the times that I have sincerely and over a long period of time worked for something and failed to attain it. And especially at this, I'm confused as to how it happened. For all intents and purposes, I have what it takes. I've been told I have what it takes. I've actually been doing this position for a little while now, but as luck or timing would have it - our pool of trainers we have doesn't need another young and beginning trainer and that is what I am. The next time they'll need one of 'my lot' will likely be long after I have left for Austin.

I've tried all the solutions to make it work, so don't suggest them. That isn't me being difficult but rather me being kind in suggesting you spend your time otherwise.

In fact, I really am at a place now where I believe it wasn't God's will. It certainly wasn't for my lack of trying. And yet, I still feel the sting of failure. This is largely a result of my not knowing where my agency ends and His divine hand begins. Or in philosophical terms, my constant struggle in reckoning between free-will and determinism.

But I disgress

My husband gave me the night to mourn the loss of what my dream has been for 6 long years. I went and got a facial and a piece of chocolate cake.

And now today, I sit and wonder about failure.

What does it mean? I suppose to understand it, I'd first have to understand success. And I don't think I've come to real conclusions about that either.

My church would have me believe that no success is greater than that which is achieved in the home. And to a certain extent I believe that. But at the same time, I don't like placing my success on the backs of the individuals that make up my home and with whom achievement comes almost entirely, in my opinion, of their own agency. Am I successful if my children are smart? Or good looking? Or accomplished at sports or music? Is that my success or theirs? Where do you draw the line? What does it mean to have a successful home? Where love abounds? I guess then I'm successful a great deal of the time...

But if not in the home and if not on the backs of others, then perhaps I think success lies in my social status or in my career?! But as of yesterday, I'm not sure how comfortable I am with that either. Afterall, I worked extremely hard to attain a training position and ultimately did not receive it largely because of supply and demand. Certain career hoops are genuinely out of our hands. Not all hard-working individuals become CEO. I don't subscribe entirely to meritocratic thinking.

I'm reminded of a TED talk by Alain de Botton on this very topic.

I know that what society deems as "success" or "failure" for that matter is not in accordance with my own beliefs of those ideals. But at certain times, like when I've failed to attain a career goal, I have a hard time remembering that.

And truthfully, I'm not really sure what I think success or failure looks like. But I know what it is not. And I suppose that is a start.

I don't have a conclusion to any of this. I just want to send my random ramblings into the vast void that is the internet and see what comes back.

Do send something back. I'm interested to hear your thoughts on the topic.


Elizabeth said...

I have avoided failure by changing my standards as I go. Sneaky, but effective in avoiding dissapointment in myself. 10 years ago my goals were much more lofty than what I've achieved. I graduated at the top of my class, and aspired to work for a big name, nation firm doing award winning work. Instead, I am an hourly part-time worker who does simple design and drafting work. One could argue that I didn't exactly give 100% towards my original aspirations, but I prefer to think that I adjusted my goals as life threw curveballs at me. I've decided I will definite sucess as happiness and contentment and dissasociate it from my career aspirations. No doubt a cop-out, but it is how I personally cope with my life's path and manage to feel fulfilled and happy. Not sure I addressed your question, but those are my thoughts.

Tanei Atagi said...

I battle this same question constantly! What does success look like? And I don't have an answer for you, but wanted you to know that I'm right there with you.

Here's what I do think for sure. Success has to be based on our own personal values. We have to be strong enough to not measure out success using someone else's ruler. So I do think it's an individual's decision. Some hope to make lots of money and will do anything for it, some hope to make okay money, while others feel successful because they live on very little to no money but are really great at scrabble.