As I sat at my desk in the early morning hours, I was putting the final touches on my project. Just a few more key strokes and I would be done. I thought, I have fulfilled a lifelong dream. I had finally completed a project that I had worked on for over two years. I expected to feel elated, but instead felt numb. Completing that project had been a mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual marathon. I felt as though every intelligent thought I’d ever had, I’d poured into that project. I couldn’t think and I was sure that I didn’t have a single word left in my brain.
All I had to do now was to save the project and get some sleep. I clicked on the save button and almost immediately the screen began to flicker and suddenly go blue. The blue screen of death. I felt the shot of adrenaline pass through my stomach and up my spine. At first I was in denial. I tried to convince myself that the computer just shut itself down and it would not be a major problem. I hurriedly tried to re-boot my computer. As I waited for the computer to come on, all the hours of research, the countless pictures scanned and the 450 pages of my project flashed in my mind. My computer would not boot up. The realization that I failed to save my project on disk sent another wave of sickening adrenaline through my system. The sense of loss and the inability to blame anyone else weighed heavy on my heart. I would find out later that morning that my computer had crashed and all of the information was lost and could not be recovered.
For the next three weeks, I struggled. I have to admit, there were times I almost cried. I tried every way I could think of to blame someone else for my situation. But in the end, I could not blame anyone else for my failure to back up my project. It was my fault and I knew it. I was now going to have to start over. What had taken me over two years to complete, would now have to be re-written. I did not have the desire nor the heart to start it again. My failure had defeated me…for a while.
Tomas Edison, after thousands of failures when he was inventing the light bulb, is quoted as to have said,
I Didn’t Fail, I Just Found Another Way To Do It Wrong
Now I am not sure that Edison’s perspective is right, but I do know that many people experienced epic failure before they were credited with success.
Failure is something we’d rather talk about after its overcome with subsequent success. That’s unfortunate, because failure teaches us things we can’t learn any other way. I have been told that the doorway to success is entered through the hallway of failure. Lord knows, if that is indeed true, I should be the most successful person ever.
Are you learning from your failures? If so…what are you learning?