Failing is such a success

There is a wonderful line from an old Bob Dylan song: “There is no success like failure and failure is no success at all.”

I never really knew what the hell that meant, but perhaps that neither word indicated anything of significance. Success, failure; whichever – they mean everything and therefore mean nothing. And yet, still, we all put a tremendous amount of stock in success and failure. That, I know, and I am no exception.

It’s because there is a difference. There is no escaping it because success and failure are the foundation on which our society is built. No question about that. Philosophically, it may mean nothing but reality dictates otherwise.

I hate failing, just like everybody else, and love succeeding – again, just like everybody else. The trick is not letting either get to you; not let the intense pain of failure turn you into a whimpering sod or let the euphoria of succeeding turn you into an arrogant jerk.

I let both get to me. In fact, if failure was any indication of a life well spent, then I have spent a fortune. Yet, I have been downright miserly when it comes to success.

I am most familiar with failure, having experienced it time and time again. I am not enjoying a bit of self-pity or passing melancholy here. It is what it is. Although success has come to me less and most assuredly more fleeting, it has come. And it has been sweet.

My successes, though, also have been accompanied by controversy. Attacked by critics. Driven by confusion. Some of my victories have been untouched by such drawbacks. Many more have not.

Failure is full of such elements because they are, well, the very elements essential for failure. Controversy. Critics. Confusion. et al. 

Another thing to remember is that failure is easier to accomplish than succeeding. Yes,  that’s probably obvious to many, but it took me a while to realize this simple truth. Failure is easy. Success is hard.

Except for a rare few, success is hard-fought, ego-driven with a helluva lot of sweat-equity. Most successful people work harder than the rest of us, rise above the immature impulses, focus on the big picture, and keep moving toward an objective; a goal. Failure is goalless.

So, success hasn’t come easy to me. It hasn’t come often, and when it has come, it has been volatile in nature. What a life.


About stevewhitmore

Former award-winning newspaperman and broadcast journalist, both radio and TV, spanning three decades. Army-trained paralegal, court bailiff and prosecutor's lead investigator for the 8th Infantry Division's Judge Advocate General's Corp., Mainz, Germany. 1973-1975.
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