I’ve had enough spice. Can I have my success now, please?

Oh gosh. I wasn’t going to answer this one. “Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.” That’s a Truman Capote quote, and the daily prompt wants to know how spicy I like my success stories.

I started reading other answers, and I found that I had a somewhat unusual point of view. That’s typical of me. The thing is, I think Mr. Capote’s quote is is a load of burlap, or maybe some other word that starts with the same two letters. Reading other responses, I keep seeing the responsible idea that failure is the way to learn. If you haven’t failed, you haven’t lived. The easy way teaches nothing, and so on. Is any of that true? Almost. See, failure does not teach. A person’s reaction to failure teaches, and that’s not the same thing. A lot of people give up when they meet resistance. Admittedly that is sometimes for the best. I’ve known people to embark on some very foolish ventures. I’ve probably even done it myself. There are other times that a person can keep going or even should keep going. Some things are worth the struggle. Are they really better off for the failure, the obstacles? No to the first; yes to the second. See, failure is not a great teacher, experience is. Oh, that’s right. Standing there, bold and true, long before Capote ever offered his words of wisdom, we find the maxim that “Experience is the best teacher”. Look it up and you’ll have a hard time finding out who exactly said it. That’s because it’s been there for centuries and it might have been a cobbler or blacksmith who said the words. Whatever anonymous person first offered this, that wisdom stands far beyond Capote’s in this instance. It is experience, and not failure, that I find valuable.

Failure does not give success its flavor. It is the challenge that flavors success. If you face countless obstacles and overcome them all, then your success will be worth no less than if you were beaten at every turn. Failure does not have to mean defeat. If you can continue, then press on. It is that courage, that determination that flavors your success in the end, not the failure. Failure is just a dark moment.

Here’s a quote for you from the comic book villain Lex Luthor, “I would rather fail spectacularly than succeed minimally.” Now that’s something to learn from. The source is not as impressive, but the idea itself is worth far more than the Capote quote. It separates failure from success. It acknowledges that victory is not the only thing worth living for. It also tells you that failure is not to be feared. It does not, however, attach any false value to failure. There are some failures that are worth more than some success. Some, but not all. A spectacular failure is powerful. Not all failure has that. You will not succeed by cherishing your failures. You succeed by defying them. That’s immeasurably harder, but it teaches far more.

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2 comments

  1. I agree completely. I truly dislike failure. I much prefer success. But one of my most spectacular failures was something that took enormous courage. I am still proud of myself for the courage to do what I could. I did parts of it well, and even though the outcome wasn’t what I wanted, the doing of it made a difference and eventually changed lives for the good.

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