On failure

I am pretty sure it is just more than an operating system problem, but I just spent three hours trying to debug NodeXL crashes on a new Windows laptop I just got when I was supposed to work on my data analysis. More so than tired, I am frustrated for not being able to pinpoint the problems as of now.

I was reminded of the notion of failure and of how heavily critical [1] I was of myself back then. I would perhaps move on to the next project in hand just like that because I wouldn’t have bothered to spend longer time fixing it. Also, one of my biggest fear is failure — loaded with all the stigma of weakness and incompetence, the darkness unknown and scary — ingrained in us from early on.

Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull writes in his book Creativity, Inc. :

We need to think about failure differently. I’m not the first to say that failure, when approached properly, can be an opportunity for growth. But the way most people interpret this assertion is that mistakes are a necessary evil. Mistakes aren’t a necessary evil. They aren’t evil at all. They are an inevitable consequence of doing something new (and, as such, should be seen as valuable; without them, we’d have no originality). And yet, even as I say that embracing failure is an important part of learning, I also acknowledge that acknowledging this truth is not enough. That’s because failure is painful, and our feelings about this pain tend to screw up our understanding of its worth. To disentangle the good and the bad parts of failure, we have to recognise both the reality of the pain and the benefit of the resulting growth.

For now, I will embrace the fact that my work today is done, that I have done some amount of growth, so I will let​ future Zana worry and fix the problem tomorrow.

[1]: I still am, but I am learning to be more generous and appreciative of my own efforts.

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