December 8, 2017
“Houston, we have a… snowday!” It is so adorable how excited Houstonians are. All over social media my fellow Houstonians are posting photos of their home and other fav city locations covered in a light powdered-sugar-sprinkle of snow. As one who likes the cold and appreciates getting to wear my socks and sweaters, I have not put the heat up very much in my house. The inside temp dances around a delightful 67 degrees which also encourages my dog and cat to snuggle up to me. Win-win, in my book. also, being Houston, most of the older homes, or those built between the 1940s and 1980s, do not have a fireplace built in. however, YouTube has taken care of this and I am currently sitting in front of a lovely fire with crackling sound being streamed on my tv. All the visual fun and no clean up or wasted real estate.
I’ve given myself permission to relax and enjoy this lovely and chilly morning and am catching up on magazines, sitting on the couch with coffee in one hand, magazine in the other. Dog is curled up at my feet and Cat lounges on the back of the couch near my head. The November 2017 issue of Nature magazine has an article that is supporting a view I have held for a long time, or at least since I got into science and realized how skewed the sharing of information is. Nature reports on two monetary prizes rewarding research that shares the failure or negative result with the world. Until now only
success has been published, and publishing is necessary to survival in academia. This has led to tremendous pressure to have positive results, pressure which has made some people choose to falsify some or all research in pursuit of acceptance by the scientific community. In my first internship at university, I asked about how we learn what doesn’t work and was told by the Primary Investigator that failures do not get published. Come again?
While it feels good for everything to work out perfectly, I will be honest and say it is my failures that teach me so much more than success ever has. I take many classes and love that dopamine dump when learning something new and making those lovely neural connections. It’s the Aha! that grabs us.
If you have ever learned a new software program by having someone walk you through a scenario, “Ok, click File, then New, then …” and with their guidance you flawlessly execute the desired result in the program. A week later you are trying to get things going in that same program and one false click takes you into a land of “What did I do now and how do I get out of here?” If that has ever happened to you then you know that having someone there to fail with you, having a safe place to fail and learn is WAY more valuable than just knowing what works. Throughout the entirety of our lives it is important to be able to fail and then get back up and try again. We revere Edison for his tenacity in failing and failing better each time, yet in our own present day we deride failure and support only apparent success. How foolish we are to not understand there is no such thing as failure, but there is such a thing as resting on your laurels. Failure can, if we let it, teach us how to be even more observant, even more critical in our thinking, even more present in our life. And while success is so desired, it can lead to complacency, tunnel vision, and even worse, insecurity and lies.
So, how will you treat your failures in life? Will you celebrate them as proof that you are pushing your boundaries Will you have compassion for the people who fail, because you know that living on the razor’s edge means that sometimes you will get cut. Will you support failure as a sincerity of spirit, as a courageous vulnerability, both in yourself and in others? Will you choose to support truth in all its forms, recognizing that it is only one truth and that both failure and success point the way toward it. Get out there and screw up. It’s good for you!