Recently I came across a quote about failure that I found to ring true (which most do pertaining to this subject). Most quotes are filled with the idea that a person has in some way or another fallen short, found crushing defeat from some sort of inadequacy, or is all about that good old protestant work ethic. But this quote on the other hand had the ring of baseball manager of the likes of Sparky Anderson, or perhaps the sagely advice that Bear Bryant would’ve uttered to one of linebackers post game. So without further ado, here it is.
“You don’t learn nothin’ from your successes!”
Short, terse, and absolutely true in a world that is filled with one hit sensations that become endless repetitions of themselves until the public grows weary and moves on. We all love the notion of adoration and fame, that some sort of connection is made with others through the work that we do. But in reality, except for a few souls that may get incredibly lucky from their abilities to see around the corner of what the public wants, the vast majority of people going through their days don’t.
Even among the greats, there are periods where each new record, painting, sculpture, or book is met with a thud. We remember the show stoppers, but are strangely myopic to the vast majority of works that didn’t garner any following or traction. I would like to think that this is due to the short memory we have for consuming small parcels of information, knowing that to drill down for each and every event or artists works would take years to fully understand what was going on. So we remember the seminal moments, forgetting about expanses of time where nothing worked out, losing seasons, or shows that received bad reviews.
My contention though, is that of the anonymous quote, success is built on the knowledge of the corpses of our failures. The taller the stack, the more years, the greater the struggle, appreciation and understanding are allowed to prosper.