For the entire month of June I’m planning on writing a series of blog-a-day posts based on a set series of open-ended questions to myself. This is one of those posts.
June 7th // Something You Have Failed
And… ah. Another tough one. But is it a tough post to write because I cannot think of a good answer or because I’m uncomfortable revealing too much of the honest truth about this particular topic? Let’s think about that shall we.
The thing is that failure is such an abstract concept in many ways. The simplest idea one might consider of it is that failure is the negative partner to success, but that in itself is a bit of a circular and unsatisfactory definition, isn’t it? Because then we’re just left with the question of ‘what is success’ and I’m probably going to need to answer that in a few weeks anyhow so we may as well get the thing properly sorted out now.
Failure, I’d argue, is loosely defined as not achieving some expected outcome as measured by some predetermined set of goals or standards. But when you are a guy like me who is always setting arbitrary goals and subjective standards for success then failure is a cheap commodity, no? Failure happens daily by that definition. If I’m not failing I must not be trying. Or, if I’m not failing I’m not setting the metaphorical bar high enough. Either way, unsatisfactory right?
So, where have I failed lately? And where (like with the problem I wrote about in the ‘Something I’ve Lost‘ post) have I failed that is worth writing about in a blog for the recollection of future readers?
I suppose, the one thing that does come to mind is my fledgling small business: that failed not so much because I am a failure at the business itself, but that failed because I was successful in other ways. I’ve hinted at here that over the course of the whole unrequested-job-change-year I embarked upon an enterprise of reaching a state of guru, or as I called it at the time, a tragically ill career given a diagnosis with a foreseeable cure. That is to say — forced into unwilling sabatical due to downsizing, or something equally not-my-fault — I intended to use that time to hone, polish, and slick-ify my ramshackle collection of information managment skills into a more subtly refined expertise. I had intended to (a) develop a new blog where I planned to write extensively on topics related to those ideas, (b) develop a foundational resume repleat with awesome information management skills that would position me as an industry expert, and (c) craft a persona — the ersatzowl — that would represent the notion of someone, somebody, who knew what he was talking about when it came to information architecture, informology, and the vast world of digital data combobulations.
It worked. Really. It was a success, at least so much in that it positioned me perfectly to get the job I currently have, and to stretch my career-slash-personal-slash-professional development plan-slash-diagnosis out on a longer, grander scale, well into the future with prospects for… well, whatever I choose to make of it.
It failed because I poked at it gingerly — to reference this past weekend’s rodeo adventure in a career-based-metaphor — rather than spurring it forward with the vigour and enthusiasm it deserved. It failed because the persona I tried to craft as a multidimensional, profession-oriented character rendered in the brilliant 3D animation of my mind fizzled into a mere pencil sketched charactature. It failed because I focused on dealing with all the raw emotions and frustrations of the past and quasi-employment in a career-minded society rather than focussing on the future and how I wanted my life and contribution to that society to shape out.
That’s all. It’s not a lost idea, but for now it is something of a failure in my mind… at least until I figure out how to remedy that.