How not to succeed (examples with superheroes)

… pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again. And again. And again.

               Yes, you read that one right. I’ve said it before, you only learn by failing. There are people who tell you to learn from the mistakes of others – that ain’t going to work, ever. You’ll only learn failure from others – they’ll put you down without second thoughts and always get to the “that won’t happen to me” crap which will really cramp your style. You’ll make mistakes. Always. You’ll push yourself (sometimes). But you will only learn by trial and error. That’s real learning, the stuff you’ll take to your death bed, if you’ve got at least a bit of pride. If you don’t have pride, if you think failure is personal – you’re doomed. Doomed, I tell you. Failure will then become fear and fear will become a reason to stop trying. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate and hate leads to suffering. Don’t mind me, I might have pointy ears but green I’m not. So I can’t take credit for that one, thank Lucas.
So how do we overcome failure? By renaming it, by making it an achievement in itself. We don’t fail, we find ways not to use when we want to succeed.
Ever heard what Edison (well, he’s kind of a superhero, like Tesla, Einstein, Bohr, and so on) said when he failed so many times to make a viable light bulb? No? Then this is for you. And yes, they might be wrongly attributed to him (though I seem to have found the sources, just not online – 1921 American Magazine, Forbes interview).

“None of my inventions came by accident. I see a worthwhile need to be met and I make trial after trial until it comes.”

“I never allow myself to become discouraged under any circumstances. I recall that after we had conducted thousands of experiments on a certain project without solving the problem, one of my associates, after we had conducted the crowning experiment and it had proved a failure, expressed discouragement and disgust over our having failed ‘to find out anything.’ I cheerily assured him that we had learned something. For we had learned for a certainty that the thing couldn’t be done that way, and that we would have to try some other way. We sometimes learn a lot from our failures if we have put into the effort the best thought and work we are capable of.”
This was included as an anecdote in a book in 1911 (but a bit differently written):
This attitude is illustrated by his reply to Mr. Mallory, who expressed regret that the first nine thousand and odd experiments on the storage battery had been without results. Edison replied, with a smile: “Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results! I have found several thousand things that won’t work.”

               The true exercise of learning is not understanding we’ll be fail at it, many times – that’s certain – but instead how we deal with failure. What was that Alfred quote?

Why do we fall Sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.
Let’s bring another badass in here – Winston Churchill:

Never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

               Hell, even “dumb” Rocky had that part right:

I’d hold you up to say to your mother, “this kid’s gonna be the best kid in the world. This kid’s gonna be somebody better than anybody I ever knew.” And you grew up good and wonderful. It was great just watching you, every day was like a privilege. Then the time come for you to be your own man and take on the world, and you did. But somewhere along the line, you changed. You stopped being you. You let people stick a finger in your face and tell you you’re no good. And when things got hard, you started looking for something to blame, like a big shadow. Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now if you know what you’re worth then go out and get what you’re worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You’re better than that! I’m always gonna love you no matter what. No matter what happens. You’re my son and you’re my blood. You’re the best thing in my life. But until you start believing in yourself, ya ain’t gonna have a life. Don’t forget to visit your mother.
Post scriptum:
I’d say more, but those quotes are so beautiful I’d just ruin them. So I’ll write another piece instead, it’ll bring up my post count too. Like that one matters.


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