May 18, 2012

On Failure

Mike hit .202 with 3 HR, 51 RBI, 18 SB in 127 games

Whoops
People fail all the time.  Even Mike failed (see top right). In fact, failure has even become kind of popular.  People write books about the "right" way to fail and even talk about failure as if it's a really good thing--a necessary evil. I think many would argue that you have to fail before you can be successful.  According to this guy it took Thomas Edison 10,000 attempts to invent the perfect setup for the light bulb (He also has a picture of a brain over a fruit juicer on his website so I'm not sure how trustworthy he is...).

Right...

I have had my fair share of disappointments, but I don't know if I have ever experienced failure. Failure on a grand scale that is, not failure like the volleyball guy (top middle) (although we did lose our church league softball game by 18 runs last night).

I've been thinking about failure more and more because I am kind of midst of failure right now.

SWR sent shoes and jerseys to a team in Kenya
A couple of years ago, I started a non profit called So We Run. You can read about the organization here. The cliff notes version of what we do is collect lightly used shoes and redistribute them to individuals in need both locally and abroad. Not a bad idea right?  We have sent shoes internationally to Kenya, Nepal, Guatemala as well as domestically in Massachusetts and West Virginia. Overall I think we have helped a few people and I do believe we have made a difference.

Unfortunately the logistics of collecting and shipping several thousand pairs of shoes in addition to the business side of running the organization (all on top of my 9-5 job) has proven to be next to impossible. The organization hasn't really done anything in awhile. In many ways, I am in the midst of the biggest failure of my life. And I have no idea what to do about it.

Rowlings at Harvard's Graduation
JK Rowlings spoke at Harvard's commencement about the "fringe benefits of failing."

Steve Jobs
I shouldn't kill myself over a failure right?  This guy once got fired from his own company. He turned out OK.

But...I can't get over it. For whatever reason, I feel like I can't let SWR fold.

What I am about to say isn't very sexy.

Maybe failure isn't as advantageous as we think.

BB was over .500 one out of five season with the Browns
I wont argue that certain things need to die and be reborn. Bill Belichick was 5-11 his last year with the Browns (in fact his teams only won more than 50% of their games once in his five years with the Browns. He won a super bowl in his second year with the Pats. Doh). I do think many people learn from failures and ultimately mature because of the experience. But at what point do you put your flag in the ground and say, "Doggonit, I'm sticking this one out."

Perhaps this is the New England side of me coming out. You see, folks from New England don't value anything that isn't 100+ years old. I'm serious. If your business, church or school wasn't built or founded before Teddy Roosevelt's presidency you aren't considered "trustworthy."

But maybe despite their inability to pronounce "car" or "idea" (the add an "r" to the end of idea. It becomes "idear.") maybe they are on to something. Maybe failure doesn't always mean walking away. Maybe it means recommitting.


Sometimes I wonder if we allow ourselves to give up once we fail. Moving on is easier this way. But I can't help but wonder what would happen if more people just committed to stick it out no matter what.

Of course, this guy decided to "stick it out." I'm not sure that's going to work out to well for him in the end...






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