Sunday, June 04, 2006

Failure has the Highest Success Rate

I have heard success defined, questioned, debated, and re-defined more times then I have heard the dreadfully-appealing-in-the-closet-head-bobbing hit single, My Humps, by Black Eyed Peas. There are bad songs that offend our sensibilities but can still be enjoyed; then there are the songs that are just really bad—transcendentally bad, objectively bad. But kind of good. This is one of those songs and success is one of those debates. You would have to be dead and wearing ear plugs not to hear either the song or the debate.

And now, like BEP, it is my turn to stir the dead with an idea of success. Consider, if you would, the speed of Light for a moment……

……and now, hold the thought.

Have you ever woke up one morning with the feeling that you are working and living at 100% capacity? You have this sense that there are no more heights nor depths nor far reaching places that your capacity and potential will allow you to achieve or explore? That is not a very exciting day to get out of bed is it? In fact, it is most likely the day that you felt the isolated and desperate icy waters of failure; cold hard and clear to the naked eye failure. At least it seemed like failure.

Still holding that thought? Good. Consider this.

I have always understood Light to be something of a metaphor of triumph; Light prevails over Darkness, good over evil, Oilers over Hurricanes. Light illuminates and pulls the images out of film in a Dark room. Light has allowed us the simple pleasures of color, shape, and hue while affording us (at very steep price tags) the opportunity to marvel at the multiple-personalities of its wave/particle duality. We sit in the warm filtered rays of sun Light and turn to a delicious golden brown while somewhere a sculptor uses highly focused lasers of Light to cut diamonds. It is no wonder we have attached the ‘Light as victory’ idea to all things brighter then Dark; the Bible even uses the metaphor. Yet, if we were judging Light purely by its speed it would have surely lost.

In the relatively small world of physics Light brags boasts and legitimately believes itself to be faster then anything. However, if anyone should know the truth it should be Light. No matter how fast Light travels it finds that Darkness has always got there first and is simply waiting for Light. Light, with its racing shoes on, consistently fails.

I wonder if that is success? The ability to never quite reach potential.

18 comments:

Mark said...

hmmmm... nice twist.
A few questions
1) Is dark known as the adbsence of light or could it be the antithesis of light?
2) How fast does Darkness reappear after light has disappeared? Or does light travel in one direction forward? Can you follow light?
3) Could it be that darkenss is just as equally successful as light...meaning that two opposing properties are eqaully reaching their potential. Does that mean their is one failure and one sucess?
4) Is our destiny sucess? Is our potentail success? Were we created for success? Or are there other things that are merely forgotten?

Boomer said...

That's an interesting thought...Is our destiny success? Were we designed to succeed? Is failure success? The possibility that we may not be supposed to succeed has never crossed my mind, it's counter-cultural. Hmmm...They say you only learn in the hard times. God says His strength is made perfect in our weakness, and that He will use the weak things to shame the strong. Perhaps the "failures" to shame the "successful". What does this all mean?

jeffro said...

deep as a river and twice as merky.

Mark said...

We make preconceptions before we even enter 'given scenarios' of what the ideal should be and we predefine success before we even start. Try removing those ... limitations and see what kind of discoveries we can make?

Jeremy Postal said...

Remove the prize, the goal, or the finish and you have severely reduced many people's motivation to even start.

Discovery itself may be success predefined....

Mark said...

Should the predefined success be the goal?

Boomer said...

If we are discussing success in the traditional sense, then our goals reamain the norm. But if we're trying to redefine success then the doors are wide opened. Does traditional success bring fulfillment or should we begin defining success as something else?

Derwyn said...

I assume we're thinking about success in terms of our obligation toward what God would have us do...

In that case, I can't help but think of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. These guys prophesied to Israel for 60, 40 and 20 years, respectively, and failed; Israel didn't repent and was still exiled.

Or did they fail? Their words have been immortalised in the Bible and these men are recognised as heroes of faith. I guess they were successful according to what God wanted them to do.

Hmmm... God wanted them to succeed at being what looks a lot like failure.

Anyone know of a pastor who didn't get anyone saved after 60 years of ministry? Anyone want to listen to what that guy has to say?

ric said...

Jer,
we humans, and i am counting you in amongst us, are so focused on the mountain in front of us we forget about the next one after it. I do not believe that I or you, or most people whom read your blog will ever wake one day and say I have done everything possible that I can so today I rest. Our challenge is to go beyond what we ever imagined doing, climbing a mountain we never thought possible.
I was re-reading Hebrews 11 this past bit, the great men and women of faith, who did some pretty amazing things to show thier faith, thier love for God, thier servant hearts, and what puzzled me the most was not that they did these great acts of faith, but they never got what was promised to them, not one of them! At least not while they lived on this earth. I need to shake the dust off my shoes, look past this lifetime, and get fully at that place where it is not the things we get now that are the "ultimate promise" but the rewards are being laid up elsewhere.
I never want to finish my walk, this journey, the challenges that are laid before me, man how boring would that be!

Esther said...

If we're trying to redefine success then I think a better definition of failure might be in order. Is it even possible to fail when you're doing what God has told you to do? And even if we're not doing what God wants us to do can we call it failure if we learn from it? God works all things for good...
Sometimes it takes getting to the bottom to see there's no where to go but up. In that case, is failure really being at the bottom when it's being at the bottom that caused you to start climbing?

Steve said...

I want to say, "well, let's find some sort of middle ground." However, if that was said, I think we all know what that middle ground would be- mediocroty (Spelling?). Far too many people are willing to be satisfied with where they've come to, and far more are unsatisfied but are happy because, "atleast they made it this far."

We should all aim for success, not failure. I think that would be something we would all agree on. However, because of our being human, and not God, we cannot expect to succeed, ever. However, we are to strive. Innevitably we will fall. "Why do we fall Master Bruce? To pick ourselves back up." We fail to get back up, and go again. But success IS the goal. Not failure. It's just that failure will always happen with us if we're with God, just to prove God is in control and he will over come the failure with something greater... something Godly.

We as humans will fail. It has been proven time and time again, with the beginning of time. But, by God's grace and his amazing ability to do things the right way, He will succeed, and we just get to tag along for the ride sometimes.

Esther said...

What if God is our success? What if the decision to follow God is our success and the goal? What if we try to do what God wants from us not to succeed but because he's already brought us to success?
I don't know if God really wants us to strive. I know he wants us to try our best to follow him and live like him but to me striving seems to forget grace and that we are assured our salvation. It also kind of seems like we're relying too much on our own strength. I don't know, correct me if I'm wrong...

Mark said...

Failure can be success? 'Success' can be failure?

Jeremy Postal said...

This question goes straight back to why I titled this particular column: 'Failure Has the Highest Success Rate'

If you think about it, there is nothing with a greater rate of success then failure; failure is more successful then success.

Steve said...

Part 1.
Jeremy,
Well then if God is our success, and success is failure... does that make God a failure? I'd think not...
Failure in the sense of our own humanity is success, so long as there is that Devine aspect, you know what I mean? So, the statement, "failure is more successful then success" is subjective...


Part. 2.

Esther, God says for us to be perfect because he is Perfect. It doesn't say try to be perfect, but rather BE. Now, it doesn't mean we can't have anything wrong with us, but it is a command to do, not try, far as I understand it to be.

Jeremy Postal said...

Steve said,
"So, the statement, "failure is more successful then success" is subjective... "

I am in no way assuming that God is a failure. However, when I say that failure is more sucessful then success, I am merely pointing out that failure is more common then success.....which, would make failure more successful. What I was NOT saying is that in order to be successful you must be a failure.

Steve said...

Wow, ok, so that totally changes my understanding of what you were saying...

Now that THAT'S cleared up...

Derwyn said...

Yoda said: "Do or do not, there is no try."

Couple that with God saying, "Be holy, because I am holy," and we're set up to succeed at failure consistently for the rest of our lives...

I think one of the problems we have is the pervasive North American notion that life is all about our success. Taking Maslow's highest need of self-actualisation and making the gospel all about that is actually heresy. The first four chapters of the book of Romans makes it absolutely clear that we all suck - no exceptions.

Embracing the reality of our failure becomes success when it causes us to fall down before our sovereign Lord and repeat what he already told us: "Apart from me you can do nothing."